Virtual Colonoscopy Advocates Hopeful for Breakthrough

Advocates for virtual colonoscopy (CT Colonography) at this year’s International Symposium on Virtual Colonoscopy were more hopeful than ever for the acceptance of the exam as an effective screening method by the U.S. Preventative Task Force (USPTF) and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). After years of hard work to validate and promote the medical imaging exam as an effective and safer method than optical colonoscopy, a number of new published studies may finally satisfy the demands of the medical policy makers.

After a CMS decision in 2009 to deny Medicare coverage for screening VC based on “insufficient evidence” in a few key areas, including radiation dose, extracolonic findings, and its effectiveness in senior patients, recent research gives hope for a breakthrough. For all intents and purposes, the evidentiary shortcomings that CMS cited have been satisfied. Now, attention is focused on the USPTF recognizing VC as a life saving and effective screening exam, a process that should be fairly straightforward from here on out.

Scientific research has proven that VC is a validated and life-saving test. Now it’s just a matter of working through the wheels and taking the appropriate steps to get it reimbursed at the national level to make it available to everyone—a process we’re pushing aggressively. Remember, when an effective and life-saving exam exists, it’s important to educate policy makers. VC is already reimbursed as a screening test for colorectal cancer by large private payers such as United Healthcare and Cigna.

Attending RSNA 2012? Be sure to attend the scientific formal keynote lecture “CT Colonography—Present Status and Future Direction” given by Judy Yee, MD, head of the American College of Radiology’s colon cancer committee, on Sunday at 10:45 AM to learn more.