PRH's New CT Scanner Produces Images in Less Time with Less Radiation

Apr 2, 2013

In just seconds, Pullman Regional Hospital's newest computed tomography (CT) machine can produce hundreds of crystal clear images of slices less than half a millimeter thick, contributing to better accuracy in a patient's diagnosis. But the new patient benefit that is most exciting to Darin Porter, Diagnostic Imaging Director of Pullman Regional Hospital, is the significant reduction in the amount of radiation patients will be exposed to during a CT scan.

"We're anticipating using half to one third of the dose of radiation with this new machine," explains Porter, RT(R), CT, RPA/RRA. "That's a huge reduction, and that's important to our patients. The less we use, the better."

The hospital's new CT scanner, a General Electric VCT 64-slice machine with Adaptive Statistical Iterative Reconstruction (ASiR) technology, produces higher-quality images in less time with a lower radiation exposure for patients.

For many patients, this new machine will also eliminate the need to travel to receive specialized studies. The new CT machine captures images fast enough to catch the heart in mid beat. In addition to cardiac studies, this also means vast improvements in vascular and pulmonary embolism studies. "We can reduce the slice misregistration, or noise that's created by moving organs, like your heart beating, for a clear picture in less than 10 seconds," explains Porter.

During a typical CT scan, a patient is injected with a contrast dye, typically an iodine compound, then x-rays are passed through the body, and images are registered and read by the detector rows, also called "slices." The smaller the slices, the greater the detail. Porter says this scanner can produce images with slice thickness of .35 millimeters—half the thickness of a credit card.

The slices can be put back together to create a 3-dimensional computer model of a patient's heart, lungs, brain, abdomen, knee, wrist, elbow, or shoulder. This gives physicians a superior view of the inner workings of the human body.

CT scans are the first line of defense for people experiencing the symptoms of a stroke to quickly determine if the patient can safely receive medication. Commonly used for diagnosing internal injuries, cancer, tumors, or kidney stones, CT is also a trauma modality.

Patients involved in a motor vehicle accident are often rushed to the hospital by ambulance in air casts, on a backboard, or with their head immobilized. "When every second counts, CT is great because it's so fast," explains Porter. "In seconds, you have tons of information—is a lung collapsed, is there an internal organ injury, did a fractured rib lacerate the liver?"

The CT department at Pullman Regional Hospital operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week so trauma patients can been seen at any hour. Currently, 15 technologists are trained in CT, five of who are board certified—the highest level in certification—and another seven are working on their certification. "This is a really good group," says Porter of his team. "They really care, and you can tell."

Porter says there's one last surprise feature that will help provide a comfortable and relaxing experience to patients –illuminated sky-scape ceiling tiles. To enjoy a beautiful and peaceful sunny day during a CT scan, all you'll have to do is look up.

Personal tours of the new CT machine are available to anyone wanting to learn about this new technology. To schedule a tour, please call Pullman Regional Hospital Community Relations at 509.336.7408. For more information about Pullman Regional Hospital's Imaging Services visit www.pullmanregional.org

Contact: Alison Weigley, Community Relations Coordinator
Pullman Regional Hospital
509-336-7408
alison.weigley@pullmanregional.org

Share this story