3-D Virtual Reality Colonoscopy: Pursuing a Better Path to Colorectal Cancer Prevention

UCSF News | Janet Wells

At UCSF’s 3-D Imaging Lab, radiologist Judy Yee, MD, pulls up an image that looks more like a birthday party balloon animal than a patient’s colon: a vibrant, color-segmented tube, torqued and twisted in on itself. 

Created from thin slices of a computed tomography (CT) scan, the image appears three-dimensional on the flat screen. It can even morph into video “fly-through” views, enhancing polyps, lesions, and other precancerous anomalies. Yee refined this revolutionary blend of advanced graphical software and scanning technology – known as CT colonography (CTC) or virtual colonoscopy – as a far less invasive and easier-to-interpret alternative to conventional colonoscopies.