(X-rays and scans)
This involves putting a probe on your abdomen so that the radiologist can examine your abdominal contents in real time. This is the same type of scan that is used during pregnancy to look at the developing foetus. An ultrasound scan is particularly good for looking as solid organs such as the liver, spleen and kidneys, as well as assessing the ovaries and uterus. It is also good for looking for gallstones and to see whether you have a hernia.
A CT scan uses xrays to take a series of cross-sectional images through the body. It provides very detailed information, but its use should be restricted as it does use radiation. An intravenous injection is usually given at the same as the scan.
CT COLOGRAM / CT COLONOSCOPY
This is increasingly used as an alternative to colonoscopy. It is good for assessing the large bowel (colon) for cancers, large polyps and diverticular disease. In preparation for the scan you will need to drink small amounts of a liquid called Gastrograffin. At the time of the scan, a catheter is placed into the rectum (via the anus) so that air can be inserted into the bowel to expand it. This can sometimes feel a little bit uncomfortable but is very short lived.
Once the scan has been done, the radiologist will review the scan and provide a report within a few days. The scan results will then be discussed at your next clinic visit.
An MRI scan is sometimes requested to assess the small bowel to look for signs of Crohn’s Disease. An MRI scan is also good for assessing the rectum and anal canal in patients with anal fistulas. For an MRI scan you will need to lie still for up to half an hour. The scanner is also quite noisy and some people may feel claustrophobic. There is no radiation risk however. MRI scans cannot be used in patients with certain metal implants such as a pacemaker. Because of this, a comprehensive checklist has to be completed before the scan.