Background & aims: Computed tomographic colonography (CTC) was first described more than a decade ago. Recent advances in imaging hardware and software and results of clinical trials based on new methods for performing and interpreting images suggest that CTC may now be assessed as a method for colorectal cancer screening.
Methods: The Research Policy Committee of the American Gastroenterological Association assembled a task force to review the results of recent clinical trials and quantitative mathematical models pertaining to CTC. The goal of the task force was to assess the current knowledge about CTC and to evaluate the issues that will define its impact.
Results: Limitations in evaluating the current state of CTC technology include a wide variation in results of clinical trials. There are as yet insufficient data on the use of CTC in routine clinical practice. Limitations in the use of quantitative mathematical models make predictions based on such models of limited value. The cancer risk and therefore clinical importance of small colorectal polyps detected by CTC and/or nonpolypoid neoplasia not detected by CTC remains largely unknown.
Conclusions: CTC is attractive as a colon imaging modality. It is therefore anticipated that CTC will have a significant impact on the practice of gastroenterology. However, the magnitude of the impact is currently unknown. Whether the ongoing implementation of CTC will increase or decrease the number of referrals for colonoscopy or shift the procedure from colorectal cancer screening to therapeutic interventions (e.g., polypectomy) is unknown at the present time. Multidisciplinary collaboration between gastroenterology and radiology to promote effective implementation and ongoing quality assurance will be important.