Patient’s story: A Second Opinion Provided a Diagnosis for Terrible Headaches

Peter Monti, aged 69, from the United Kingdom suffered with headaches since 1980. Ten years later he also started to experience memory problems. The first neurologist said that Peter imagined his problems and so didn’t propose any treatment.

Peter explains his situation:

“Instead of testing me for neurological symptoms he suggested I have my back x-rayed and see an orthopaedic consultant. To wait for an appointment for this would have taken about a year at the time, and my memory and headaches were getting worse. I had to go private.”

This was only beginning of a long journey. Five years later another neurologist came with the diagnosis of ventricular dilatation of the brain. During the next 8 years several different specialists across the country came with various different diagnosis – confirming the ventricular dilatation, suggesting hydrocephalus, brain tumour, suspecting a mini stroke, anxiety or simply saying that the patient doesn’t suffer from any disease. None of these helped Peter to relieve his pain. Peter adds:

“I had pressure in head like pumping up a football or like an elephant sitting on my head. I had difficulties in remembering times of appointments. 99% of the time, my wife had to be with me when I went out.“

The situation was very frustrating, and Peter felt that he didn’t get enough attention from doctors who explained very little to him about his symptoms. What was even worse, his condition wasn’t getting any better and he was still suffering from headaches and memory problems. Peter says:

“I felt very exhausted one afternoon, that I lay down on the couch, but on awakening I found that my speech was slurred, the left side of my body, face and mouth felt numb and my leg and arm were numb with no life in them. These appeared to be typical stroke symptoms. This eased off, within reason, in a day. However, it did leave me with a dribble from the left side of the mouth and some numbness in other parts which is still there today. The main headaches and pressure were still there, and I had lost my large word vocabulary and spelling.”

In 2006 Peter used the freedom of information to get all his GP’s, council, and hospital notes. Later he contacted Diagnose.me for a second opinion as he wanted to find out the cause of his problems to enable him to get the proper treatment. Peter explains:

“I needed a means of finding what was happening inside my head, the consultants up north, as I have said, did not believe the south and living in the north I could not access any more help. Therefore I started looking on the internet for any means of going private, without having to give all my old notes to the new consultants, simply a fresh start.“

He approached Professor Majda Thurnher, a leading specialist for neuroradiology who is also a President of the European Society of Neuroradiology-Diagnostic and Interventional (ESNR).

Dr. Thurnher carefully reviewed Peter’s brain MRI and the clinical information he provided. Her detailed report revealed that there were no signs of acute lesions or other brain diseases on the MRI. She also said that there were no signs indicating hydrocephalus. She concluded that the neurological examinations and MRI of the brain did not show any abnormality that would explain Peter’s clinical symptoms. However, she confirmed slight widening of the ventricles. Finally, further neurological examination was recommended.

Even though Professor Thurnher didn’t come up with a diagnosis or give clear explanation of Peter’s headaches, she provided him with a detailed description of her findings and the information he was missing along with recommendations for the next steps. Peter summarises:

“This at least has given me the knowledge, that at least, there are no major problems in my head. It is certainly worthwhile having this second opinion, as at least I now know just what is going on and that the headaches and pressure are not an indication of any major problems.“

Is Your Health Really in Your Hands?

According to Bloomberg ranking, Singapore is one of the healthiest countries in the world. Other statistics show that it is the Netherlands or even Iceland. According to the latest report from The Commonwealth Fund, the United Kingdom ranks best in terms of health care.

The United States of America, the country with the world’s most expensive healthcare system, is ranked in 11th place. The impact of the healthcare system in each country, on its population is undeniable. Despite this, the fact remains that the responsibility for taking care of our health lies on each one of us as well.

Every country has its own way of dealing with medical problems. For example, just in the area of oral hygiene, according to a study made by the Colgate Association, problems are quite different. Hungarians visit dentists rarely. Poles consider consumption of a large amount of sweets to be their main problem. In the Czech Republic, people most often visit a dentist for dental control and treatment of dental cavities. Generally, patients from western countries are more conscious of their health issues and are more open to new possibilities of modern medicine (eg Telemedicine). However, there are differences even within the same country. For example, the residents of an Italian village Campodimele rarely live less than 95 years of age, while the average life expectancy of Italians is approximately 81 years. Even the World Health Organization has named this place the “Village of Eternity“. Locals have their particular diet derived exclusively from this region to thank. A big role is also played by genetics. However do not forget that, just as the residents of Campodimele benefit from their local food and less stressful lifestyle, we have the advantage of modern technology and available alternatives.

Doctor Google and Nurse Wikipedia

With the advent of new technologies, the internet has become the world’s number one counselor in health care. According to a report from the Institute for Healthcare Informatics, Wikipedia is one of the main sources of medical information not only for patients, but also for physicians. According to that report, up to 50% of doctors turn to Wikipedia especially for rare diseases. Another study again shows that, as many as one of three Americans have verified their health on the Internet. While 41% of people who sought this form of health information indicated that doctors confirmed their “online diagnosis”, another 35% did not even seek expert opinion after online search.

Many doctors and medical specialists, however, warn that there is a lot of incorrect medical information online. This fact is confirmed by the research made by a team of pediatrics whose main focus was the safe and healthy sleep of children. Within the research they analysed the first 100 pages of a Google search. Only 43.5% of the websites contained information that was in line with the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, while 28.1% of pages contained incorrect information and the remaining 28.4% of the sites were not even medically relevant. Although today‘s modern technology offers many new ways to take care of your own health, it is important to always consult with an expert. And if possible, even with a few experts for a second opinion. It is something on which we have a serious impact. Incorrect diagnosis and subsequent treatment of the issue may worsen the problem or cause other complications.

Diagnose.me provides online access to the world’s top specialists to help confirm or correct your scan results and diagnosis. You can choose your own specialist and get a response in as little as 48 hours. Be sure your doctor is making the right decision and be confident in knowing what comes next is best for you.

Patient’s story: Diagnose.me Specialist Revealed Remaining Bone Fragments

In 2013, Adrian Coleman, a 37 year old Bioprocess Specialist fractured the radial head in his right elbow as a result of a fall onto a hard concrete surface.

Adrian had no surgery at the time, but had the injured arm in a sling for 5 weeks. As a very active person he became frustrated when he couldn’t enjoy sports like golf and squash which he regularly took part in. Adrian also has three children, and as a result of his injury found he was unable to be as active or as involved with them as he would have liked.

Adrian became worried about the number of set-backs he was having with his elbow and so requested and scheduled an MRI scan with his doctor. Even though the original MRI scan did pick up that there were some bone fragments left from the fracture, the report he received was vague and he decided to seek a second medical opinion. Adrian explained:

A. Coleman“I was undergoing physiotherapy to build back the strength in my elbow, however each time I was in the gym it was making it worse and within a few weeks the area was becoming sore and swollen. After receiving results from my doctor, I felt that the feedback wasn’t clear and I wanted more of an answer. I requested a copy of my scans, which I received immediately and then started thinking about getting a second opinion.”

He found out about Diagnose.me when searching for a doctor second opinion:

“I initially wanted reassurance that the report I had received was correct and I felt a second opinion would help to accurately assess the true cause of my pain. I have had to stop working my arm in the gym and as a result have put on some weight, so I was keen to find a solution.”

Adrian chose an experienced musculoskeletal radiologist, Dr Schueller-Weidekamm:

“I was impressed with her experience and the positive feedback she had received. Within 2 days I had the report back and I was delighted with the level of detail in it. I am so impressed with the service which has enabled me to go back to my doctor and discuss pursuing new treatment options.”

As a result of contacting Diagnose.me, Adrian discussed the results of his second opinion with his doctor, including the recommended treatments within the report and he is now awaiting a consultation in order to book an arthroscopy of the elbow to clean the joint and remove the remaining bone fragments.

Patient’s story: I’ve found the reassurance

Nicky, aged 40, primary school teacher (UK), comments her experience with her chronic back pain and second medical opinion:

Nicky H
Nicky, primary school teacher in UK

I have been suffering with chronic lower back pain for over 5 years and was becoming frustrated with the inconclusive reports I’d received from various specialists regarding the causes of my ongoing discomfort.

For the past 6 months, I’ve been seeing a chiropractor for regular massages – as well as carrying out daily, recommended exercises – but due to the conflicting advice I’d been given in the past, I hadn’t felt totally convinced that this was the right course of action for me. I was worried I might even be doing more harm than good.

When a friend recommended Diagnose.me, I was immediately intrigued by the prospect of being able to consult an international expert, without actually having to travel outside of the UK!

I found the site easy to use and within a few “clicks” my X-rays had been sent to the radiologist and musculoskeletal specialist, Dr. Laurence Bellaiche, in Paris (who I later discovered is a consultant to some of France’s top footballers!). As promised, Dr Bellaiche sent me a report within two days and I was relieved that she had made the same diagnosis (almost “word for word”) that had been given to me previously by two UK-based consultants.

Whilst Dr Bellaiche’s second opinion did not go so far as to highlight a new, radical treatment that might have helped my chronic back pain further – it did however provide me with the reassurance I needed. I now feel happy that I am following the right advice based on my existing diagnosis and will therefore continue with my current treatment plan and hope for slow and steady improvement.

Thank you!

Patient’s story: Greater understanding of my condition and informed conversation

Six years ago Toni Clarkson, head of leadership and coaching company 3dleadership, suffered a terrible injury on a dry ski-slope. The 53 year old was preparing for her first ever skiing trip. A keen mountain climber and runner, Toni was keen to overcome this injury and get on the road to recovery and regain her former fitness.

Toni Clarkson
Toni Clarkson

Unfortunately, despite Toni’s best efforts, the pain in her knees persisted and eventually made it almost impossible to exercise.   Desperate to regain her fitness, Toni got a referral to see an orthopaedic consultant at her local NHS hospital in Bedford. She underwent an MRI scan to explore the underlying issue.

The results were inconclusive and ambiguous, and having receiving a one-paragraph report from her consultant, Toni was disappointed with the lack of information provided and was keen to get a better understanding of the data. Toni explains:

“Like most women, my health and wellbeing is really important to me – not only as I am self-employed, but also because I really enjoy leading an active life, travelling, climbing and running. It’s important to me that I feel fit, but also that I keep in shape. Following my NHS MRI scan, I still didn’t feel in control of the situation and wanted to be much better informed.”

It was at this point that Toni began to search for another radiologist to analyse the report and give her an expert second medical opinion – before seeking any further advice on treatment. Toni requested a copy of the MRI images, which the hospital provided on a CD the next day. Following research, Toni came across www.diagnose.me and was impressed by the choice of specialist radiologists and reasonable prices.

“I am away from home a lot for work, and so the online service with such a quick turn-around was really appealing to me. The website is incredibly simple and gives you the flexibility and freedom to upload scans and email information and questions in your own time – even late at night. I chose an experienced musculoskeletal radiologist, Professor Claudia Schueller Weidekamm, and was delighted with the level of detail in the report, the speed with which it was delivered and the confidence it gave me to start to discuss treatment options with my doctors.”

Toni received her Diagnose.me report within 3 days, compared to the initial two week wait on the NHS for the first report. The detailed 8 page report, including analysed images and diagrams, gave Toni a greater understanding of her condition and enabled her to have an informed conversation and where appropriate challenge certain aspects of her consultation.

As a result of her experience with Diagnose.me, Toni has discussed the treatment options available and will undergo a double knee arthroscopy in July this year. With another 40 of the 283 Munros still to climb in Scotland, Toni has high hopes and steep ambitions for a speedy recovery!

Preparing your child for a medical scan – Kids aren’t just small adults!

It is important that a pediatric imaging team encourage parental/carers involvement, always! So ask, insist, please! Why? Carers are the most important people in a child’s world, they need to be invited to be present.

Carers should be given a specific task or role during the medical scanning procedure, when appropriate, to be most effective. They can hold the child, comfort, or distract their child.

For a child facing their first CT or MRI scan, or for that matter any imaging exam, can feel like they are stepping into a strange world, with strange people, in a foreign environment dominated by the big, ugly machine that is the medical scanning device.

The imaging team will endeavour to reassure every paediatric patient and put them, and their carers, at ease as much as possible. However, as a parent it is not at all easy to see your child in distress.

As a parent you are in the best position to prepare your child for the medical scan, and to support them during the experience. To help you in this scenario, US pediatric Radiologist-in-Chief at Golisano Childrens Hospital and Diagnose.me specialist Johan Gerard Blickman gives their advice on how you can help your child through get through the medical scan and what you can expect at each stage of the procedure.

Before the scan

  • Being in a medical setting can be upsetting to a child. If your child is anxious about the scan you should discuss exactly what might happen in an open and honest manner prior to the appointment. Many imaging departments have folders describing pediatric imaging tests in colourful, cartoon-like terms. Ask for them.
  • You may want to practice lying still with your child for periods of 5 to 10 minutes at a time. This practice may help prevent your child from needing sedation medication. This technique is called ‘role modelling’ and if a child sees you practicing this, it will be easier.
  • Bring along a “comfort” item for your child for them to hold during the scan, such as a favourite soft toy or small blanket to keep them calm. Many medical imaging facilities will have some familiar toy items available, some you can even keep! iPads and tablets are becoming more and more popular for children to watch or play their favourite apps to calm their fears.
  • If sedation is required every aspect of the procedure will be explained to you to ensure the experience of the medical scan is as easy as possible.
  • Depending on what area of your child’s body is being scanned, there may be important instructions to follow before and on the day of your child’s scan. Make sure you read through all the documents from your doctor and ask for advice if you are at all unsure.

During the scan

  • The most important role of a parent or guardian during the test is to be there for the child and to help them stay calm and relaxed. It is important that your child remains still during the scan, reassuring them that they’re not in any danger will help them. Positive words ‘you are doing awesome’ and ‘you are lying soooo still’ do work!
  • Follow the instructions given by the doctor, nurse, or technologist. They will show you where to sit or stand during the scan.
  • Even though you may be physically separated from the technologist/doctor, they can and will constantly communicate with you through an intercom.

After the scan

  • If your child has not been sedated they will normally be able to go home straight after the scan. However, if your child has been administered with sedation medication, they will be taken to the recovery area after the exam. Most families are able to go home shortly after the exam.
  • The radiologist will evaluate the results and send a report to your child’s doctor, who will then arrange an appointment to discuss the results with you. The pediatric radiologist may or may not give you a preliminary result, but the final report usually takes 24-48 hrs.
  • If you are still concerned after your child’s diagnosis, you can seek a doctor second opinion. Diagnose.me is a specialist online health platform that connects patients seeking a second opinion with some of the world’s leading specialists including paediatric radiologists. This online service can find, confirm or correct a patient’s diagnosis and give you advice on the best treatment options. You will need a copy of your child’s medical scans (X-Ray, CT or MRI) to upload onto the site – you can easily request a copy of the scan from your hospital or doctor.

Top Tips to Cure Technophobia and Master Digital Health

Just as “seniors” are turning to digital tools for banking, shopping and entertainment, they’re increasingly using the internet to manage their health and well­being.

Getting these silver​ surfers more digitally connected, either personally or through caregivers, is expected to greatly enhance opportunities to protect the health and well­being of the over 65s in the UK.

According to recent research:

  • One in four (26%) of those aged over 65 say they would do online research before they visit their GP
  • 44% of over 65s would seek medical information online after their visit to the GP

However, some older people still struggle with technology, either because they don’t have access to a computer or are not confident. However, the benefits are huge and include:

  1. Learning more about health problems and how best to manage them.
  2. Becoming an informed and active participant in decisions about your health.
  3. Finding and facilitating access to medical specialists.
Erik Ranschaert
Erik Ranschaert, Chief Medical Officer at Diagnose.me

Diagnose.me expert and consultant radiologist, Erik Ranschaert, talks through how to take technology, and your health, in to your own hands and no longer be a ‘technophobe’:

Be vigilant.

It’s important to find a trustworthy source of medical or health information. Some sites may provide inaccurate or incomplete information which may be misleading and even endanger your health further. Make sure you are using credible and reputable websites such as NHS Choices​, charities and associations for specific conditions. You can also use online services such as Diagnose.me which offer direct online consultations with qualified medical professionals, verified and appointed by a Medical Advisory Board.

Safe and sound.

It is always possible that scam artists may prey on elderly users who are unsure of the internet. So, never give personal information or bank details to anyone you don’t fully trust. If you’re not sure, search for reviews to see what other customers have said.

Go back to school.

Contact your local library, community centre or Further Education College to see whether they offer computer training for older adults. Many have these courses and are free or offered at low cost.

Keep your doctor in the loop.

Whilst online advice can be very valuable, make sure your doctor is your first port of call if you have any issues or are displaying symptoms such as weight loss or chronic pain. If you’ve had a diagnosis and you’re still worried, consider getting a second medical opinion to​ help confirm or clarify the diagnosis and treatment. Diagnose.me can connect you with some of the world’s leading imaging specialists in a range of conditions.

Get a techno-learning-buddy.

If you’re still having problems, and there are no computer courses in your area, ask a family member or friend to show you. Watching someone else carry out a task online can be a quick and easy way to pick up new technology skills. With Diagnose.me a family member can upload the scans for you and support you every step of the way.

Silver surfers​ are catching the eHealth wave, do you consider yourself one of them? Let us know!

Older women are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer

According to the recent Public Health England survey of 731 women, only 48% of women over 70 could name a symptom of breast cancer other than a lump. This is alarming, considering that each year:

  • Over 50,000 women in England are diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 in 3 cases are women over 70
  • Breast cancer claims around 9,500 lives in Britain every year, half of which are women over the age of 70.

Breast cancer warning signs you shouldn’t ignore

Breast cancer doesn’t always show as a lump. If you have any of the symptoms below, notice any unusual changes to your breasts or have any doubts, go and see your GP immediately:

  • A lump or thickening in your breast or armpit
  • Change to the skin of your breast (such as dimpling of the breast surface or orange skin texture)
  • Changes in the shape or size of your breast
  • Nipple changes or discharge
  • Pain in your breast

Other, seemingly unrelated symptoms may include:

  • Vaginal pain
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
  • Visible veins on the breast

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

In the UK, women aged 50-69 are screened every three years using an X-ray test called a mammogram. Women over 70 are also entitled to a free screening every three years, however need to ask for an appointment with the NHS breast screening service.

If the results, which are usually within two weeks, show any abnormalities or are inconclusive, you may have to have more tests including breast examination, more mammograms, ultrasound scan, MRI scan or a biopsy.

When to get a second opinion on cancer?

Up to 15% of breast cancer cases are only discovered following a second opinion. Dr. Erica Endo, MD, PhD., one of the breast cancer experts from Diagnose.me, comments:

Dr_Endo
Erica Endo, MD, PhD

“Early detection of breast cancer has a 90% to 98% long-term survival rate and survival longevity is increasing. That’s why it’s crucial to be diagnosed correctly and as soon as possible. Because interpretation of mammograms may be tricky, asking an experienced radiologist to consult your case increases the probability of early detection and survival.“

The accuracy in detecting breast cancer is questionable with approximately 1 in 5 patients being diagnosed incorrectly when based on mammogram results. There are a number of reasons for this, for example the images may not be of good enough quality, could be interpreted differently, or it may be because radiologists, like all humans, make mistakes.

If you have been diagnosed with invasive, or non-invasive breast cancer, a second medical opinion by a qualified radiologist, specialising in breast imaging, will reduce the risks of being misdiagnosed or receiving incorrect or unnecessary treatment.

Get a Second Medical Opinion Online

You are entitled to get a second medical opinion from your GP, however if you feel a little “shy” get online and get a second medical opinion from the comfort and privacy of your own home.

At Diagnose.me, you can select your own world-class oncology or breast imaging specialist, who will review your case and medical images in as little as 1-4 days. They will also make recommendations about your treatment that you can take back to your GP to discuss a treatment plan.

A second opinion from the online Diagnose.me has helped 15% of patients to avoid unnecessary treatment so it is well worth it.

Sounds good, but how can I obtain a copy of my mammogram scan?

In the UK, the NHS Breast Screening Programme will keep your scans for at least eight years. Under the Data Protection Act 1998, you have the right to access your clinical records or any personal information held about you. To obtain a copy of your own medical records and radiology images you can:

  • Ask your healthcare professional or GP directly
  • Contact the Health Records Department of your NHS Trust but you may be charged. Radiology images cost up to a maximum of £10, whilst health records can cost up to a £50.

If you have any doubts or concerns about the results or advice you have received, or you simply want to double check for peace of mind this online service is most definitely the answer.

Seizures and epilepsy in Childhood

It is a terrifying experience for family members who witness their loved ones, especially children, have an episode of seizures or further on, be diagnosed with epilepsy.

In many cases seizures that take place at home have not subsequently been picked up in hospitals by even the most sophisticated scanning. This can cause doctors or parents to believe they are imagining that their child has epilepsy. This is a frustrating situation for a parent to be in, and fortunately most doctors will now listen sympathetically to parents and treat them as a primary information source in helping to manage and correctly diagnose their children’s health.

What is a seizure?

Seizures occur when there is a short period of sudden surge of electrical activity from the brain, causing our body to act in a certain way. When someone has a tendency of recurrent seizures over a longer period of time, then it is called epilepsy.

seizures
MRI brain

This electrical activity may occur from one small area or the entire brain, this determines if the seizure will occur in one part of the body or be generalized. Although having a single episode of seizure does not mean there will have more seizures, it does however increase an individual’s chances of having more. Seizures are not rare in children, and they do not necessarily mean a dangerous pathology. However, a history of seizures in the family does makes it more likely for them to develop epilepsy.

Causes of Seizures in Children

There are many causes of seizures and epilepsy which vary from newborn to older age however, in many cases the cause of seizures may be unknown.

Common causes are:

  • Structural abnormalities in the developing brain,
  • Decreased levels of electrolytes in the blood,
  • Bleeding in the brain and
  • Low blood or oxygen supply to the brain in newborn and infants less than 1 year age There are also a number of causes which affect all age groups including: infections such as meningitis or encephalitis and stroke. Also, within the 60’s age group, brain atrophy and degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease can cause seizures.
  • Space occupying lesions can affect any age group, however in children specific lesions are more prone to causing seizures than other ages.

Diagnosis of Seizures

Diagnosis of seizures can be difficult, as the person having the seizure may not remember what has taken place. Within children they will rely on parents or loved ones to recount this for them and take action.

The doctor will perform a neurological examination including a test that measures the electrical activity of the brain called EEG. Imaging tests such as computerized tomography (CT)and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)may be required. In paediatrics MRI are preferred due to the absence of radiation exposure, however under 5 years of age MRI requires general anaesthesia. CT is the preferred option in acute settings.

Diagnosis from scanscan be open to interpretation and therefore could possible lead to a misdiagnosis. If you’ve visited a doctor and are having doubts, asecond medical opinioncan reduce the risk of a misdiagnosis by up to 90%. Diagnose.me can help.

Caring for your colon – what to look out for and what tests you might need

Have you noticed a change in your bowel habit or blood in your stools? 

It is important to be aware of the symptoms that should prompt further testing to check the colon. Tests will tell you why your symptoms have occurred and look for colon polyps or other growths, as well as a condition known as diverticular disease. This condition can cause lower abdominal pain and blood in the stools. Several countries have started screening programmes for colon cancer, however many people still get diagnosed with cancer outside of these programmes so awareness of the symptoms is important.

Some of the symptoms to look out for include:

  • a change in your usual bowel habit (going more or less often)
  • blood in the stools or on the toilet paper
  • mucus or slime mixed with the stools

Another reason to have a test is if your blood count is low because of a lack of iron (iron deficiency anaemia). In this case it is important to check if there is a polyp or growth in the colon bleeding slowly and causing the anaemia.

Figure 1
A 3D map of the colon generated during a CTC test – this is possible because of the air that is put in.

The two main types of test are:

1.  A camera test, optical colonoscopy (OC)

2.  A scan, CT colonogram (CTC)

Recent research has shown that a CTC is as good as an OC for diagnosing important growths in the colon, and also offers some advantages over OC. In a CTC scan, air is gently put into the bowel and a scan of the whole of the abdomen and pelvis is taken. The colon is then examined by the radiologist on the CT scan images.

Here are 5 important facts to know about CTC:

#1 Scan Preparation

The preparation for CTC is lighter and better tolerated by patients than the preparation for an OC. Many centres are now moving to a “minimal” or “light” preparation protocol, and some only use a type of medication called Gastrografin. This is an x-ray dye agent which mixes with the stool and “paints” it so it appears bright on the CT scan. Small pieces of stool can then be distinguished much more readily from polyps. Using this process means that your life isn’t disrupted as much, either on the day before or the day of the scan. An OC requires the bowel to be completely empty, so the preparation causes diarrhoea. This occurs far less with the Gastrografin preparation for a CTC.

#2 Comprehensive Scan

Figure 2
The arrows point to a polyp in the colon, seen outlined by some white fluid – this is Gastrografin which many centres are using as the only preparation for CTC.

As well as the bowel, a CTC can examine all of the other structures inside the abdomen – the organs such as the liver, kidneys and pancreas, the blood vessels, and the lymph nodes. This is important if you have pain as it could be coming from an abnormality in one of these other structures rather than the bowel – this can’t be assessed with an OC.

#3 Greater Patient Safety

It is a safe test to have – the rate of perforation or puncture of the bowel as a result of a CTC is 1 in 2500-5000 procedures, with only 1 in 12500 patients requiring surgery as a result.

#4 A Complete Picture

The whole of the colon can be assessed with a CTC, whereas with an OC sometimes the endoscope cannot be passed through narrowed areas in the colon, or the endoscope cannot reach the end of the colon because it is tortuous. In these cases, a CTC is requested as a second test.

#5 OC for Biopsy

Figure 3
A 3D image of a polyp generated from a CTC scan – the data from the scan can be processed by special software to generate a “virtual” colonoscopy picture that looks like an OC picture.

If a colon polyp or other growth is seen, then an OC would be necessary to take a biopsy as this is not possible with a CTC. However, the vast majority of patients do not need to go on to have an OC as a diagnosis can be provided with the CTC.

If you have any of these symptoms or are concerned about getting your colon checked, it is important to go and have a chat with your doctor first – a detailed history and examination will help you and your doctor to decide which tests you may need.

 

However, if you’re not completely happy with your initial diagnosis be aware that you can seek a second medical opinion? Diagnose.me is a specialist online health platform, which connects patients seeking a second opinion with some of the world’s leading specialists. They will find, confirm or correct a patient’s diagnosis from their X-Ray, CT, PET-CT, ultrasound or MRI scans.


References:

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23414650

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19626326

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20959977

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24816935