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April 16, 2008 > Washington Outpatient Imaging Center Celebrates Successful First Year in Operation

Washington Outpatient Imaging Center Celebrates Successful First Year in Operation

Advances in Imaging Technology Bring Patient Care into Sharper Focus

As the Washington Outpatient Imaging Center celebrates its first anniversary, radiologist Dr. Jason Cheng, M.D., reflects on the center's success over the past year. Located inside Washington West (2500 Mowry Avenue), across the street from the main hospital, the imaging center offers quality comprehensive care in a convenient, relaxed setting.
It's difficult to say whether Dr. Cheng is more excited about the Outpatient Imaging Center's impressive array of technology and "beautiful" facility or the staff's efforts to provide the highest quality of service to patients. Perhaps a lot of both.
While Dr. Cheng is extremely enthusiastic about the imaging center's state-of-the-art technology - notably the 64-slice computed tomography (CT) scanner - he is also quick to note the center's dedication to customer service.
With wait times for imaging services - from CT scans to ultrasounds - being greatly reduced, he says it's now easier than ever for patients and referring doctors to get imaging work done faster.
"Our goal for routine CT scans is to have patients scheduled within three days," Dr. Cheng notes. "If there's an urgent problem, we will work to get them in that day. For routine ultrasounds, our goal is five days, but in many cases we get patients in sooner. Again, if there's an immediate need, we will work to schedule the patient that day.
"We're trying to make the whole process user friendly from both the patients' and referring doctors' viewpoints with an emphasis on excellent customer service."
Dr. Cheng says patient response to the new facility, including the easy access to services all under one roof, has been very positive.
The imaging staff includes fellowship-trained radiologists and highly trained imaging technicians responsible for taking X-ray, CT and fluoroscopy images. Registration staff members are available to help patients make appointments and check in for appointments.
From a technology standpoint, the center offers a range of cutting edge diagnostic tools, including:
* Fluoroscopy
* Ultrasound
* 64-slice CT imaging
Combined with the imaging services provided by Alliance Imaging MRI Services and those provided at the Washington Women's Center, Dr. Cheng says Washington Hospital is able to offer "a very broad spectrum of imaging services" that also includes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), bone density testing, nuclear medicine scans, PET/CT scanning and mammography.
Many of the imaging technologies being utilized, Dr. Cheng says, represent extraordinary leaps that have improved the patient experience in a variety of ways.
For instance, the 64-slice CT scanner is capable of producing image slices 10-fold thinner than the standard CT scanners could even five years ago. Plus, the 64-slice is able to acquire these images much more rapidly, which means less time that the patient has to remain still during scanning.
Perhaps most importantly, the thinner image slices provided by the 64-slice scanner leads to greater image detail that aids in diagnosis.
The team of radiologists at Washington Hospital also can use 3-D imaging software in conjunction with the 64-slice CT scanner to obtain 3-D images of a patient's organs and rotate the images to view different them at different angles, which increases the technology's flexibility and usefulness.
The very rapid scan times and thin slices of the 64-slice multidetector CT scanner makes high quality CT angiography (CTA) possible. Angiograms are X-ray studies to look at the blood vessels in various parts of the body.
"Traditional angiograms require an invasive procedure with the manipulation of a catheter from the groin through the body into the arteries being studied in the heart, brain or elsewhere," says Dr. Cheng. "This can be technically difficult and is associated with a small but real risk of complications such as injury to the blood vessels which can cause a stroke or heart attack. CT angiography on the other hand, only requires a simple injection of contrast into a standard intravenous line. This is a much simpler, quicker, less expensive and lower risk procedure."
While CTA could be performed with less sophisticated CT scanners, with a 64-slice multidetector scanner the images produced are significantly better and in many cases rival those produced by conventional angiography.
"Another advantage of CTA is that once the scan has been completed and the data acquired, the 3-D images can be rotated and examined from different angles to find the projection that gives the best view of the area of interest," Dr. Cheng adds. "This can be a significant diagnostic advantage."
On the women's health side of imaging, advancements include breast MRI and minimally invasive breast biopsies. According to Dr. Cheng, breast MRI is good for problem solving and for screening patients with a high lifetime risk of breast cancer.
"Minimally invasive breast biopsies may be done using ultrasound, stereotactic (mammographic) or MRI guidance," Dr. Cheng explains. "In contrast to standard traditional surgical biopsies, a minimally invasive breast biopsy is an outpatient procedure that uses a special needle and only requires a very small skin incision about a quarter inch in length. This procedure is now almost as simple as having a procedure performed at your dentist's office."
Overall, Dr. Cheng says he is amazed by the outstanding advancements in imaging technology that are now at his fingertips at Washington Hospital.
"I've been in radiology for 20 years, and I can honestly say that the advances in medical imaging have been tremendous. With imaging technology today we are able to diagnose patient's problems more quickly and reliably. This leads to better patient care which is the ultimate goal of everyone in medicine."
To see a complete list of services provided at the Outpatient Imaging Center and to read detailed bios of Dr. Cheng and his colleagues, visit www.whhs.com, click on "Services & Programs," and select "Washington Outpatient Imaging Center" from the drop-down menu.

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