Boulder colonoscopy

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Full Range of Services and Minimally Invasive Techniques

To protect our patients and staff, all people entering a BCH care facility will be required to wear a mask (exceptions include children <2 yrs. old or medical reasons such as trouble breathing, unconsciousness, or someone unable to remove a mask without assistance).
*Bandanas, neck gaiters, and masks with valves are not acceptable.

senior man smiling Gastroenterologists specialize in preventing, diagnosing and treating digestive tract and liver disorders, including conditions involving the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon.

Boulder Community Health offers the latest in endoscopic equipment and minimally invasive techniques. We partner with Gastroenterology of the Rockies to offer our community convenient endoscopy options.

More complicated cases are performed at BCH's Foothills Hospital.

It's important for those over 50 years old, and those otherwise at risk, to get screened early for colon cancer. Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. However, it is also preventable, treatable and beatable through screening.

During endoscopic screening procedures, doctors insert tubes through the mouth or rectum to examine and treat problems of the digestive tract, with minimized impact on surrounding tissues.


Physicians see patients with a wide variety of problems and symptoms including, but not limited to:

  • Acid reflux
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Stuck food
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) and diseases of the liver pancreas, and intestines

There are several screening options when it comes to preventing colon cancer. Please discuss which one is right for you with your BCH provider.

To make an appointment with a BCH primary care provider to talk about getting screened for colon cancer, please call BCH Patient Scheduling at 303-415-4015. Or request an appointment with GI of the Rockies here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Do I Need a Colonoscopy?

Your doctor will suggest how often you need this exam, depending on your personal risk for colon cancer. Doctors usually recommend starting at age 50 and repeating it every 10 years. If you have an increased risk for colon cancer, or have had previous treatment for colon polyps or colorectal cancer, the test may be done at a younger age and more often. Find out from your doctor whether you should start before age 50.

Do I Really Need a Colonoscopy?

The need for a colonoscopy is real. In the United States, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer diagnosed among men and women. CRC largely can be prevented by the detection and removal of polyps, and survival is significantly better when CRC is diagnosed while still localized.

Will I Be Unconscious During the Procedure?

Before the exam, your doctor administers pain relievers and a sedative through an intravenous (IV) line. The sedative brings you into a state called "conscious sedation." This is not like general anesthesia, where you’re unconscious, but a sleepy, relaxed dreamlike state.

Does a Colonoscopy Hurt?

The doctor gives you pain relievers and a sedative to bring you into a state called "conscious sedation." This is not like general anesthesia, where you’re unconscious, but a pleasant, sleepy, relaxed dreamlike state.


Colon Cancer Screening Options

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.

Fortunately, it is also one of the few cancers that is preventable.

Talk to your BCH provider about which screening is right for you. Regular screening is one of the most powerful ways to prevent colorectal cancer. If polyps are found during colorectal cancer testing, they can usually be removed before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Testing can also result in finding cancer early, when it’s smaller and might be easier to treat.

Colonoscopy has the highest sensitivity for detecting both cancerous and precancerous lesions, prevents colon cancer by polyp removal, and remains the gold standard test. The preps are now easier, the procedure is essentially painless, and with a negative colonoscopy, no other screening is generally needed for 10 years. Colonoscopy uses a flexible lighted tube with a small camera on the end to look at the entire length of the colon and rectum. If polyps are found, they may be removed during the test. To prepare for the test, you may be asked to follow a special diet for a day or two before the test. You will also need to clean out your colon with strong laxatives (called a bowel prep) and sometimes with enemas, as well. Most people are sedated during the test. If nothing is found during the test, you won’t need another one for 10 years.

Second-tier options include the at-home FIT test:

  • Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) and fecal immunochemical test (FIT) are used to find tiny amounts of blood in the stool that could be a sign of cancer or large polyps. People take these tests at home with a kit they receive from their doctor’s office, along with instructions. A positive result will need to be followed up with a colonoscopy. However, many times the cause is a non-cancerous condition, such as ulcers or hemorrhoids. Stool tests like these need to be done every year.
  • The FIT/Stool DNA test (i.e., cologuard) is a newer option. It does have the advantage of every 3 year testing. Remember, though, that these tests are not as accurate in detecting precancerous polyps as colonoscopy. Stool DNA testing is a type of non-invasive test to check for colorectal cancer. A stool DNA test may appeal to people who want to be screened, but don’t want to undergo the usual preparation required for a colonoscopy and some other screening tests. It looks for certain gene changes that are sometimes found in colorectal cancer cells. The patient uses a take-home kit to collect a stool sample and mail it to a lab. Cologuard® is the name of the stool DNA test that is currently FDA-approved, and the patient gets it from their doctor’s office. The test checks for DNA changes that could be a sign of cancer or pre-cancerous growths called polyps. It also checks for blood in the stool, which can be a sign of cancer. No special diet or bowel preparation (no laxatives or enemas) is required for a stool DNA test. However, if the test does show a possible cancer or pre-cancer, the patient would then need a colonoscopy to confirm it, and possibly to remove any polyps.

Not everybody can have this type of screening test. It’s only for people with an average risk for colorectal cancer: no personal history of pre-cancerous polyps, colorectal cancer, or some other factors. Ask your doctor if it's right for you.

Third-tier options include CT colonography every 5 years, flexible sigmoidoscopy combined with FIT or FIT/DNA, but these tests are not as accurate in detecting precancerous polyps as colonoscopy:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy is much like colonoscopy, but looks at only part of the colon and rectum. If polyps are found, they may be removed during the test, or you may need to have a colonoscopy later. Bowel prep may be required, but is not as extensive as the one used for colonoscopy. Most people do not need to be sedated during this test. If polyps or suspicious areas are seen, a colonoscopy will be needed to look at the rest of the colon. Flexible sigmoidoscopy must be done every 5 years.
  • CT colonography (also called virtual colonoscopy) is a scan of the colon and rectum that produces detailed cross-sectional images so the doctor can look for polyps or cancer. It requires bowel prep, but no sedation. Air is pumped into the rectum and colon, and then a CT scanner is used to take images of the colon. If something is seen that may need to be biopsied, a follow-up colonoscopy will be needed. CT colonography must be done every 5 years.

If you’re 50 or older, talk to your doctor about which screening test is right for you and get tested as often as recommended. If you're under 50, talk to your doctor about your family medical history. People at higher risk for colorectal cancer because of family history or certain health conditions (such as inflammatory bowel disease) might need to start screening earlier.

Call 303-415-4015 to make an appointment with a BCH provider.

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Virtual Colonoscopy

Why Virtual Colonoscopy?

 Virtual Colonoscopy, (CT colonography), represents an exciting advance in preventive medicine in the screening for colon cancer. It provides a new, proven option, especially for those who have been putting off conventional colonoscopy exams. 

A True Advance in Colon Cancer Detection

 Recent studies have shown virtual colonoscopy to find more cancers than conventional or optical colonoscopy. There is no sedation required, and this non-invasive procedure takes only 30 minutes. Many insurance are now covering the cost of this screening.

The choice of a qualified, experienced scanning center is crucial to the success of a virtual colonoscopy screening. Our center is the most experienced facility in Northern Colorado using the most advanced workstations ever developed specifically for noninvasive colon examinations.

We invite you to continue your visit through our site for more information, as well as some interesting and very informative videos.

A Less Invasive Colonoscopy

 Imagine, instead of undergoing an invasive procedure with a colonoscopy and being under sedation, and after a major bowel preparation, you now have an option—the quicker, gentler, minimally invasive procedure at Front Range Preventive Imaging, a Virtual Colonoscopy, or VC. 

The Preparation

As with conventional colonoscopy, VC requires a cleansing of the colon. However, the “prep” for a VC is not as intensive as the prep for a conventional. Basically, it consists of taking a stool softener, MiraLax®, drinking 8 oz. of magnesium citrate, and then spending a half day on clear liquids of your choice. A dilute barium solution is also given to tag any stool or fluid remaining in the colon. Our technologists will explain the preparation to you and provide you with what you need for this stage of the procedure. 

The Procedure

When you arrive at Front Range, you will change into a gown. A small disposable tube is inserted a short way into the rectum to inflate the colon with carbon dioxide. There are no dyes, no sedation, and no IV is required. A reduced radiation CAT scan is taken, first with the patient lying on their back, and again with the patient lying on their stomach. 

The Imaging

 The images are sent to a special workstation and imaging reconstruction is performed using the Viatronix system. This is the most advanced and accurate 3D rendering technology ever developed for CT colon examination. The Viatronix provides a record of the procedure in 2-dimensional, 3-dimensional, and video format.

The images are reviewed by experienced, Board Certified radiologists and, when present, polyps are measured. Any findings on organs outside of the colon are also noted. The Viatronix software allows review of 100% of the colon surface, something that is not accomplished with conventional invasive colon exams. A detailed, full color report is then created for the patient and doctor, if requested

The entire procedure takes less than 30 minutes. Afterward, you can drive yourself home, or go directly back to work. There is no recovery time needed.

Virtual Colon Scan vs. Traditional Colonoscopy


  • Accuracy
    Several independent studies have shown that Virtual Colonoscopy is equivalent to conventional colonoscopy in finding clinically significant polyps and colon cancers.
  • Identification
    Virtual Colonoscopy can also visualize abnormalities and cancers in organs outside of the colon.
  • Permanent record
    Virtual Colonoscopy provides the surgeon with a precise “road-map” should any polyps need to be removed.
  • No sedation and no IV is required.
    Patients may remain on anticoagulant therapies.
  • Quick
    The entire appointment only takes 45 minutes. You can drive yourself home or back to work immediately afterward.
  • Easier Prep
    You basically stay on clear liquids of your choice for a day and take mild laxatives.
  • Cost Value
    Total cost of a VC is less than half of a conventional colonoscopy exam and provides more information.

Who Should Have a Virtual Colonoscopy

Average Risk Patients
The recommended age to begin colon cancer screening for “average risk” individuals is at age 50. For the average risk patient, the data shows that 92% of subjects who have a virtual colonoscopy require no additional testing or polyp removal.

If you are concerned about cancers and other pathology or diseases outside of the colon, virtual colonoscopy provides a look at other organs and can identify extra colonic findings such as live, kidney, aortic, or ovarian abnormalities.

Higher Risk Patients
People with a family history of colon cancer or other factors that might increase their risk should have the initial colon screen 5 to 10 years sooner.

If you have a condition that would make the presence of a polyp very likely, or if you have symptoms of inflammatory disease, you would be advised to have a conventional colonoscopy so that any significant polyps could be removed or a biopsy taken at the time of the procedure.

Patients on Certain Medications

For the person on Coumadin or other anticoagulants, virtual colonoscopy does not require that these medications be stopped for the procedure. 

Patients with a Failed Conventional Colonoscopy

Virtual colonoscopy is a good choice for the person for whom the gastroenterologist was unable to complete the conventional colonoscopy due to the inability to advance the tube. 

Convenience and/or Avoidance Issues

For the 60% of the population who have just never gotten around to having their colonoscopy, or those who do not have the time to give up an entire day or two for a screening procedure, virtual colonoscopy provides an ideal option. 

Colonoscopy screening: Virtual vs. optical colonoscopy


Colonoscopy boulder


Colonoscopy screening: Virtual vs. optical colonoscopy


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