The hospital's Diagnostic Imaging Department recently purchased a CO2 insufflator machine that will be used along with a CT colonography test. The alternative method allows doctors to check for colon cancer without the need to send up a scope as the process is completely digital.
Jim Andrews, the CT team lead at the hospital, said they're already using this method for patients who cannot get a colonoscopy with a scope as it requires patients to be sedated.
â€œComparatively to the United States, (the digital scan) would be done first,â€ he said. â€œIt is in the infancy stage north of the border. We're trying to get there. If there's something that requires a surgical intervention (using the scope method) is still the way it is done. People with age generally seem to have more turns in the bowels that makes it more difficult for a convention scope to have it done. We provide an option for those people that may not be able to have a complete scope.â€
While the digital scan might be quicker as it doesn't require a hospital stay, the scope method allows doctors to take a biopsy while they are doing the colonoscopy, he said.
Timmins is the only hospital in the district to offer the digital scan with the next closest hospitals being in North Bay and Sudbury.
On average, the hospital performs about two colonoscopies a week, although it has the capacity to handle many more.
Andrews said they hope the alternative method will attract people who are 50 years old and up to come and have a colonoscopy.
â€œI think 40 and above is what they begin to say to start questioning about going to your doctor and when should I start looking for things in your bowels,â€ he said. â€œAt 50 it is recommended that you do have some sort of screening unless there's something found in your family. Then you probably start the process a little earlier.â€