New high-def colonoscopies could help save lives

(NBC) - Many of you probably watch TV in high definition.

Now doctors are using the same technology to screen for colon cancer.

"As you can see a difference at home when you're watching the big game on television, you can see the blades of grass and you can see more definition, the same holds true when we're here at the endoscopy suite," Dr. Leon Maratchi, a gastroenterologist, explains.

Dr. Maratchi says HD makes his job easier, resulting in benefits to the patient.

"In my experience doing colonoscopy in HD allows me to find the polyps and pre malignant conditions earlier because the images are so crisp and sharp that finding them is a lot easier," Dr. Maratchi said.

Nurse Sharon Ramirez was recently a patient who underwent a procedure in HD.

"We're really fortunate to live in the times that we live in with such advanced technology, where doctors have the opportunity to detect the disease process in earlier stages," she said.

A virtual colonoscopy is what President Obama recently had.

It still involves taking laxatives to empty the colon, but no sedation and no scope.

It's a CT scan.

Special computer software turns the flat images into 3-D video.

They still have some drawbacks.

"With a virtual colonoscopy we would be unable to obtain any tissue for diagnosis or removing any polyps," Dr. Maratchi explains.

It's recommended colonoscopy screening should generally start at age 50 or age 45 if you're African American.

Getting a colonoscopy can reduce the average person's risk of dying from colorectal cancer by 90 percent.

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