Minimal preparation CT for the diagnosis of suspected colorectal cancer in the frail and elderly patient

Clin Radiol. 2006 Feb;61(2):127-39. doi: 10.1016/j.crad.2005.07.011.


Colorectal cancer is a common malignancy with an increased incidence in the elderly population. Traditional methods of evaluating this disease have included double contrast barium enema and colonoscopy. Unfortunately, in the frail and elderly patient, these investigations can be difficult to perform and are often not tolerated. Minimal preparation computed tomography (MPCT) of the colon has been suggested as an alternative in this patient population. In this technique, no bowel preparation is used apart from the administration of oral contrast medium. The patient is imaged only in the supine position, without per rectal insufflation of gas or barium. This article reviews the experience to date of MPCT in detecting colonic tumours, and compares its efficacy to the traditional methods. A meta-analysis of the studies allowed estimation of the pooled sensitivity of MPCT to be 83% (95% confidence interval: 76-89%), and pooled specificity to be 90% (95% CI: 85-94%). An added advantage of MPCT is the ability to identify extra-colonic pathology, and this aspect is also reviewed. In addition, the common radiological features and pitfalls in identifying colonic tumours by MPCT are discussed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Humans
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / standards