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Use of Virtual Colonoscopy Increasing

Use of Virtual Colonoscopy Increasing

HealthDay News — Even though Medicare does not cover computed tomographic-colonography (CTC), its use in hospitals is increasing, according to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Megan McHugh, PhD, from Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues used the 2005 to 2008 American Hospital Association annual surveys to identify the percentage of hospitals in the United States that offered CTC during that time, and the rationale behind offering the service. Additional information was included based on interviews, conducted in 2009, with representatives from radiology departments in six hospitals that provided CTC and three that did not.

The researchers found that 17 percent of hospitals offered CTC in 2008, an increase from 13 percent in 2005. Among hospitals providing CTC, 69 percent also offered optical colonoscopy services. Factors that influenced the adoption of CTC included provision of an alternative for frail, elderly patients. Additional reasons included failed optical colonoscopy, high waiting time for optical colonoscopy, and positive evidence emerging about CTC. A commonly cited barrier to offering CTC was the lack of reimbursement.

"Our study is unique in that we show expansion even in the absence of Medicare reimbursement for CTC for general screening," the authors write. "CTC's relatively easy implementation coupled with improved patient acceptance makes CTC a tool that holds promise for the future of colorectal cancer prevention."

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