UC's New Hi-Tech Scanner "Slices" Patient Visit Time
A new, state-of-the-art scanner at the UC Department of Radiology will provide physicians with images of their patients in detail not possible before.
And the speed at which the scanner works allows it to gather high-resolution images faster than earlier scanners, while providing a more accurate diagnosis.
The device, the 15th of its kind to be installed when it arrived at UC and still the first in Cincinnati, is a Somatom Sensation 64-slice CT (computerized tomography) scanner.
“Slice” refers to an image of an anatomical segment—similar to slicing a loaf of bread. So with its ability to take 64 images during each rotation around the patient’s body—compared with only one, four, eight or 16 images captured by current CT scanners—the 64-slice scanner delivers much better definition.
In addition to the number of images gathered, the speed of the scanner also plays a role in the improved image definition. Anything causing motion—including beating of the heart or breathing—can result in a blurred image. This new machine moves faster than previous models and has the ability to adjust for heart contractions, but breathing can still affect image quality.
“With the 64-slice scanner, patients only have to hold their breath for 8–12 seconds,” says Cristopher Meyer, MD, an associate professor of radiology at UC. “That’s a considerable improvement over earlier scanners that require 25–40 seconds of breath holding.
“With this new technology we can scan the entire chest in 10 seconds, which means our patients will get treated faster,” he says.
This has an advantage for scheduling, Dr. Meyer adds.
“Patients may walk in to schedule an appointment and we can walk them directly back to the 64-slice CT scanner,” he says. “Their CT scan is completed in a single held breath and they can get on with their day. Without blurred images, we can provide faster, more accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations.”
CT scanning works by capturing a series of pictures of the body after the injection of a nonionic contrast medium. The quicker the scanner, the lower the amount of contrast medium necessary, making it easier for the kidneys to filter. At the same time, more images can be gathered at once. This allows for whole organs or much larger sections of the body to be imaged resulting in more accurate diagnoses.
UC is using the 64-slice scanner for routine imaging, however the real advantage, says Dr. Meyer, is in its current application in heart imaging, virtual colonoscopy, virtual bronchoscopy and neurovascular imaging.
The 64-slice will also be a key research tool. UC surgeon Randall Wolf, MD, for example, inventor of the “minimaze” procedure to treat atrial fibrillation, uses the scanner to simultaneously screen his patients for coronary artery disease while gathering data about the left atrial heart chamber prior to his innovative surgical procedure.
UC acquired the 64-slice CT scanner from Siemens Medical Solutions.
The 64-slice CT scanner is located at University Radiology Associates, Inc., in the Medical Arts Building at 222 Piedmont Avenue.
Siemens has installed the SOMATOM Sensation at 40 institutions around the country including the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, UCLA, Brigham & Womens Hospital, Johns Hopkins Health System and Massachusetts General Hospital.