ACR, others exhort CMS to cover virtual colonoscopy

The American College of Radiology (ACR) has joined with other medical societies to urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reimburse for virtual colonoscopy.

In a letter sent to CMS on June 18, the ACR joined with the Society of Gastrointestinal Radiologists (SGR) and the Society of Computed Body Tomography and Magnetic Resonance (SCBT-MR) to inform CMS that there is sufficient data and clinical evidence to support national coverage for this exam as a screening tool for colorectal cancer.

The societies recommend that virtual colonoscopy be used as an alternative for colon cancer screening in asymptomatic adults age 50 or older, for those unwilling to undergo other primary screening modalities, and following incomplete endoscopy.

In their letter, the three groups cited recent research that showed the viability of virtual colonoscopy as a screening option, including data from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) recently released joint guideline with ACR and the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on colorectal cancer, as well as findings from the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) National CT Colonography Trial, which showed that virtual colonoscopy screening identified 90% of asymptomatic patients with neoplasia 10 mm or larger.

Virtual colonoscopy will not replace optical colonoscopy, the ACR noted, but may improve colon cancer screening by allowing more patients to undergo effective screening.

In addition to screening, the comment letter also endorsed the use of virtual colonoscopy as a diagnostic exam in symptomatic patients or those at increased risk for routine endoscopy.

Related Reading

Thin slices more important than adequate tube current in VC CAD, June 19, 2008

Automated polyp measurement cuts variability, May 21, 2008

CMS launches comment period for VC coverage, May 20, 2008

American Cancer Society recognizes virtual colonoscopy screening benefit, March 5, 2008

Bill introduced to add VC to Medicare screening coverage, December 20, 2007

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