St. Mary's Has New CT Scanner

Reporter: Shannon Samson

The X-ray has come a long way.

Once computers were applied to the technology, the pictures got incredibly realistic. And these CT or "Cat" scans just keep getting better. The scanner takes tiny pictures about the width of a credit card and then the computer reconstructs them into some amazing images.

A traditional "Cat" scan shows the brain in black and white in a two dimensional image. The new 64 slice CT scanner shows it not just in color and 3-D, but also allows the image to be manipulated.

For instance, the doctor can look at the brain and then take it out to examine the blood vessels inside of it. Computerized tomography uses X-rays to scan the body, breaking it up into cross sections called "slices" and with 64 of them, doctors can see images in great detail.

Dr Killol Thakore says, "You can easily see the blood vessel taking blood to the right kidney which is right renal artery here and you can see the calcification." But not just the calcifications, the radiologist can also see the patient's spine and other organs.

That comes in handy, for instance, if a trauma patient is rushed to the emergency room. Often, doctors will be treating one injury, only to find another. Before, that meant the patient needed another test, but now, Dr. Thakore says, "We don't have to bring the patient back to the Cat scan or anything. We can use the same information and pretty much look at everything."

The doughnut hole and table can accommodate patients who weigh up to 450 pounds, which is a hundred pounds more than before. The whole test usually takes less than 15 seconds, which is easier for respiratory patients who can't hold their breath very long.

It's a fast, non-invasive test that often leads to a quicker diagnosis. Dr. Thakore says, "You're able to see more information with the CT scanner and that way you can get the earlier diagnosis and I think that's your best difference, that if you're diagnosed earlier, you have more treatment options and you can decide what to do."

Next month, the staff at St. Mary's will have enough training to start using the new CT scanner to diagnose cardiovascular diseases. Plus, they'll soon be able to use it as a replacement for cardiac catheterization. So instead of having to thread a catheter through an incision in your leg, they can just insert dye into your arm and do the test that way.