Virtual Colonoscopy Patient Stories: Beverly
A physician referral is required. Please consult your primary physician for a referral and a prescription for virtual colonoscopy preparation. Referrals and prescriptions may be faxed to (608) 263-0700.
When Beverly Holmen (pictured, left with her husband) went in for her routine colonoscopy, she never dreamed it would turn into a trip to the Midwest. But now, the 71-year old is very grateful it did.
"I knew my routine colonoscopy would involve some difficulty, since I have irritable bowel syndrome and twists in my large intestine," states Holmen. "And my suspicions were confirmed when my general practitioner - and then a gastroenterologist - were both unable to perform conventional colonoscopies because of it."
Upon receiving incomplete results from the conventional colonoscopies (also known as optical colonoscopy), Holmen's physicians resorted to barium enemas, which at the time, showed no sign of polyps.
One year later, when Holmen experienced trace amounts of blood in her stool, she decided to inquire about virtual colonoscopy (VC), also referred to as CT colonography.
"I asked my gastroenterologist if I would be a candidate for VC, considering my conditions," said Holmen. "He said there was one hospital in Omaha that performed VCs, but that they didn't do many of them because the procedure wasn't well-known."
Holmen's specialist then mentioned a particular physician in Wisconsin - Perry Pickhardt, MD (pictured right, with Mark Reichelderfer, MD) - who specializes in virtual colonoscopy.
"My gastroenterologist said, 'If I had to get one, that's where I'd go'," stated Holmen. "So for me, that was the best advice I could get!"
"I was happy to hear that Beverly was referred to UW Health, since more challenging cases will be better-served at a center with extensive VC experience," says Pickhardt. "VC is not only an effective front-line screening test, but also an ideal test for patients in whom conventional colonoscopy cannot be completed, or is considered too risky."
Holmen ventured to Wisconsin to have a virtual colonoscopy performed.
"Virtual colonoscopy was the right choice for me - very comfortable and tolerable, considering my situation," states Holman. "Unfortunately, I was expecting an 'all clear' from the doctor but, that wasn't the case. They found two polyps and gave me the option of having them removed immediately, or having it done back home. So, I called my doctors in Nebraska to see what they advised and they both told me to get it done."
UW Health VC coordinator Holly Casson contacted the gastroenterology triage nurse and explained the difficulty involved in Holmen's case. Fortunately, Mark Reichelderfer, MD, was available and Holmen's surgery was scheduled the same day, which truly "amazed" Holmen.
While removing Holmen's polyps, Dr. Reichelderfer discovered a third polyp with a flattened appearance - typically suggesting a pre-cancerous lesion.
Because of Holmen's results, Dr. Reichelderfer had her return for follow-up appointments - one every four months - for one year. After Holmen's last follow-up exam, Reichelderfer cleared her for three years.
"Beverly was very lucky she had the exam," states Reichelderfer. "Catching polyps in the pre-cancer state is the reason our GI and VC programs stress the importance of colorectal screening. And we know the message is getting out because for the first time ever, colon cancer rates started falling in 2006 - all due to more widespread screening of people age 50-plus."
"I'm so happy there were people who could find the problem," states Holmen. "Virtual colonoscopy and the medical staff at UW Health did that. My condition could've gotten too far along, and I would've had an even bigger problem. I was treated kindly by every person I met, and Holly and the entire staff were so helpful. I'm very grateful to everyone."