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March 6, 2007 > Welcome to the 21st Century of Imaging Technology

Welcome to the 21st Century of Imaging Technology

Advanced Computed Tomography Scanner Has Vast Applications

Advances in technology have enabled us to capture sharper images using digital cameras. The more pixels the camera has, the richer the detail of each image.
In the world of health care, new technology is bringing the human body and its processes into sharper focus, giving doctors better tools with which to diagnose countless health conditions through more precise imaging.
On March 13, Dr. Mimi Lin, a Washington Hospital Medical Staff radiologist, will shed light on a new outpatient imaging tool, called a 64-slice computed tomography (CT) scanner, that is changing how doctors are diagnosing and treating patients.
"This talk would benefit anyone interested in new medical technology or who wants to know what to expect if they were to have the procedure," Dr. Lin explains. "This is such an exciting field. We can scan just about any body part and make countless diagnoses. If we do find something abnormal, we can define it better."
During her seminar, Dr. Lin will talk in depth about:
* What the 64-slice CT scanner is
* The technology's capabilities
* Benefits
* Risks
* How to prepare for the procedure
* Who can benefit and who shouldn't use the technology
* How the procedure works
* The patient's experience during the procedure
* Limitations of CT
New technology is faster, more precise
A traditional CT scan, sometimes referred to as a CAT scan, uses special X-ray equipment to take images from different angles around the body. Using a computer, the data is processed to show a cross-section of body tissues and organs.
The 64-slice CT scanner employs 64 X-ray tubes. Dr. Lin explains that the rotating X-ray tubes spin around the patient and the detector takes snapshots of the beam after it passes through the patient. Thousands of pictures may be recorded in one turn of the detector. A powerful computer program processes the information to display diagnostic images.
The technology has very recently, according to Dr. Lin, begun to evolve at an incredible speed.
"A multidetector CT scanner is any scanner that has more than a single X-ray tube," Dr. Lin says. "Single-slice CT scanners have been around for more than 30 years. The first multidetector scanners had two tubes and came about 12 to 15 years ago. The progression to more tubes has advanced rapidly in the last five years. The must current technology has 64 tubes."
So what do these advancements mean to patients? If you've ever received an X-ray or had any other type of imaging procedures done, you may remember being told to hold your breath while the image is being taken. Sometimes for what seems like an eternity. The new technology - which has the ability to scan from head to toe in less than 60 seconds - reduces the amount of time some scans take.
But more significantly, the 64-slice scanner has the ability to help doctors better diagnose disease processes using minimally invasive techniques.
A minimally invasive look into your heart
A major application of the new technology is better imaging of blood flow through the vessels. The imaging allows the radiologist to actually follow the flow of blood from your heart down to your toes and diagnose vascular problems along the way.
"As we can scan faster and image contrast enhanced vessels, we can now image the coronary arteries of the heart," according to Dr. Lin. "This procedure is less invasive and faster than a conventional coronary angiogram."
A conventional catheter angiography requires putting a hole in an artery, typically in the groin area; whereas the CT scan procedure only requires insertion of an IV (intravenous) and from the patient's point of view is identical to getting a routine diagnostic CT scan, Dr. Lin says.
She warns that the procedure is not a tool to be used indiscriminately on every patient, as it involves the use of radiation. It can be helpful in diagnosing patients who have non-acute symptoms such as calf pain, known as claudication, or atypical chest pain.
"This study is designed for patients who have some symptoms referable to the chest, but who are not having an acute heart attack," she emphasizes. "Patients having symptoms of an acute heart attack may be better served by a conventional angiogram where some therapies can also be done. On the other hand, if your coronary arteries appear normal on the CT angiography, there is a better than 96 percent accuracy that the coronaries are normal. If we find something on the scan, we can send you on for further treatment."
A new tool in cancer treatment
Another major application of the scanner that Dr. Lin will discuss during her seminar on March 13 is its use in the diagnosis of different types of cancer.
"As we scan with thinner images, we can not only diagnose tumors, but we can better define the extent and involvement of adjacent structures," she says. "This helps with surgical planning as well as monitoring response to treatment."
According to Dr. Lin, three-dimensional (3D) and multiplanar images can be useful to display lesions, or abnormalities. Viewing things from different perspectives, she says, can clarify an area of question.

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Learn more about the future of health care
To find out more about how the 64-slice CT scanner technology at Washington Hospital's Outpatient Imaging Center is helping to revolutionize your health care, join Dr. Mimi Lin for her Health & Wellness seminar, "3D Pictures of the Heart and Body: Learn About 21st Century Imaging With the 64-Slice CT Scanner."
This free presentation will be held from 1 to 2 p.m., Tuesday, March 13, at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, Rooms A & B, located on the first floor of 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont, across the street from the main hospital.
To register, call (800) 963-7070. To find out more about upcoming classes, visit www.whhs.com, click on "For Our Community," and select "Health Classes & Support Groups" or tune into Comcast Channel 78 - InHealth, A Washington Hospital Channel, for more health programming.
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