BOSTON - A new generation computerized tomography (CT) scanner installed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center holds the promise of generating sharper, more detailed images in less time, providing physicians better diagnostic tools while improving patient comfort.
The 64-detector CT scanner, named for the number of detection units contained within the device, enables high-speed, high resolution imaging using lower doses of X-ray. The Aquilion™ 64 scanner from Toshiba America Medical Systems, Inc, one of only three of its kind in the nation and the first in New England, gathers more - and more accurate - information while reducing the length of time patients must remain still or hold their breath.
"The combination of speed and high-resolution has brought us into new frontiers of body and cardiac imaging," says Vassilios Raptopoulos, M.D., director of BIDMC's CT services. "We are now beginning to see the whole body in a different perspective and develop new clinical applications for multislice CT imaging."
A 64-detector CT scanner gathers a very large amount of images all at once, and each of these images is more finely detailed and accurate than those obtained on previous generation CTs. As a result, the radiologist can provide more precise diagnoses, and more accurate information to surgeons and other doctors treating the patient.
This generation of scanners is also designed to support 3D (and even 4D, with time as the fourth dimension) analysis. While 3D images and 3D analysis tools have been available for some time, the 64-detector scanners gather more accurate images, allowing surgeons to see ahead of time what they will see during surgery, including the relationships between body organs, blood vessels and other internal structures. The ability to gather a large number of images in a very short period of time improves the ability to analyze areas of dynamic activity in the body, such as stroke locations and airways. Dynamic studies like this allow physicians to see what is happening within the body. Existing scanners are not able to obtain enough information to conduct these studies.
The scanners also enable radiologists to use scanners for new purposes, such as gathering images of the heart, coronary arteries and smaller blood vessels. It has been very difficult to obtain clear images of the heart over the half-minute that it takes to complete a scan with existing CTs. With 64-detector scanners, the images of the heart can be obtained in a much shorter time. Since there are fewer heart beats during this time, the images are much clearer. In effect, the scanner obtains its images so fast that it "freezes" the motion of the heart.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a major patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and ranks third in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox.