CT colonoscopy of colorectal neoplasms: two-dimensional and three-dimensional virtual-reality techniques with colonoscopic correlation

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1997 Nov;169(5):1237-42. doi: 10.2214/ajr.169.5.9353434.


Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the diagnostic accuracy of two-dimensional (2D) CT colonography and three-dimensional (3D) virtual colonoscopy with conventional colonoscopy in patients who have suspected colorectal neoplasms.

Subjects and methods: Twenty patients were studied (eight women and 12 men; mean age, 53 years; range, 42-85 years). All patients had findings on conventional colonoscopy suggestive of colorectal carcinoma and underwent colonic CT within 3 hr of endoscopy. Two-dimensional CT colonography and 3D virtual colonoscopy images were generated from the same data set that was obtained from thin-section helical CT of the abdomen and pelvis after rectal insufflation of room air. Three-dimensional virtual colonoscopy images were obtained by downloading CT data to a workstation equipped with commercially available software. Volume- and perspective-rendering techniques were used to achieve interactive, 3D virtual "fly-through" examinations of the colonic mucosa. The results of 2D CT colonography and 3D virtual colonoscopy were compared with the findings of conventional colonoscopy and correlated with surgical and pathologic outcome where possible.

Results: Twenty masses (defined as intraluminal projections 2 cm or larger in diameter) and 15 polyps (defined as projections smaller than 2 cm in diameter) were identified in our study group. All masses and 14 of 15 polyps were successfully shown on 2D colonography. Three findings of polyps on 2D colonography were false-positive, and one was false-negative. Three-dimensional virtual colonoscopy revealed 19 of 20 masses and 13 of 15 polyps. On conventional colonoscopy, all 20 masses and 13 of 15 polyps were identified, with one false-positive finding of a malignant stricture in a normal colon. Complete examination of the colon was possible in 18 of 20 patients using the 2D technique and in 17 of 20 patients using 3D virtual colonoscopy, whereas conventional colonoscopy showed the entire colon in only 12 of 20 patients.

Conclusion: Two-dimensional CT colonography and 3D virtual colonoscopy are complementary and effective techniques for examining the colon in patients with suspected colorectal carcinoma. CT techniques offer several advantages over conventional colonoscopy including the ability to detect abnormalities proximal to obstructing carcinomas, accurate localization of abnormalities within the colon, and good patient tolerance. These CT techniques may play an important role in future diagnosis of colorectal cancer and for screening patients at risk.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Polyps / diagnosis
  • Colonoscopy / methods*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Data Display
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Software
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • User-Computer Interface*