March 28, 2013 at 10:29 PM
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DALLAS, March 28 (UPI) -- A 3-D virtual colonoscopy -- a quicker, less-invasive version of the conventional test -- is an option for patients to consider, a U.S. expert says.

Dr. Cecelia Brewington, vice chairwoman of imaging services at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and a professor of radiology, said many people skip screenings for colorectal cancer even though the condition is one of the most commonly diagnosed and is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Brewington said doctors can use an imaging technique known as computed tomography and virtual reality computer software to view and evaluate detailed images of the inside of the colon and rectum.

"Virtual colonoscopy is designed to take some of the fear or intimidation out of the exam," Brewington said in a statement. "The procedure typically lasts about 15 minutes and does not require sedation or insertion of a scope into the colon."

Brewington said the 3-D test is nearly as accurate as an invasive colonoscopy and can detect polyps bigger than 10 millimeters -- 0.39 inches -- with 90 percent accuracy.

However, the virtual procedure is not recommended for patients who have been previously diagnosed with polyps or colon cancer.

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