The purpose of this study was to estimate the effective dose that is currently used in CT colonography using scan parameters that were collected for this purpose, and to investigate trends in time. PubMed was systematically searched from 1996 until January 2004 for studies investigating CT colonography. Research institutions were contacted and asked for their current scan protocol. Thirty-six institutions published 74 studies. Twenty-eight of the 36 institutions provided their current protocol. The median effective dose in 2004 was 5.1 mSv (range 1.2-11.7 mSv) per position. Most institutions (93%) scan in both the supine and prone positions. The median mAs value was 67 mAs (range 20-200), median collimation was 2.5 mm (range 0.75-5). From 1996 until 2004 a significant decrease in mAs and collimation (P=0.006, P<0.0001, respectively) was observed, while institutions that used a multislice scanner increased (P<0.0001). The effective dose remained constant (P=0.76). In 2004 the median effective dose for a complete CT colonography was 10.2 mSv. Despite the increasing use of multislice scanners, which are slightly less dose-efficient, the median effective dose remained approximately constant between 1996 and 2004. This is mainly caused by the use of lower mAs settings.