September 26 , 2005
New CT scanners offer morediagnostic opportunities
By janet christenbury
Emory Hospital recently acquired two high-speed, state-of-the-art
computed tomography (CT) scanners to diagnose certain medical conditions
more rapidly and to determine if the technology can diagnose other
conditions, particularly vascular conditions, from the head to the
The new, 64-slice scanners allow experts to image incredibly
small details in
a matter of seconds. The “slices” are as thin as a credit card and,
when combined, form a three-dimensional view of the patient’s anatomy.
“We are excited to have obtained this new technology for both diagnostic
and research means,” said Sanjay Saini, professor and chair of radiology. “While
we know the 64-slice CT scanners work in diagnosing some conditions, but we still
need to test-drive them on others. We will examine how best to use the scanners
for certain medical conditions and when to use them in place of more invasive
“If a patient comes in complaining of abdominal pain, we have had proven
success that the 16-slice CT scanner can help us diagnose the problem,” he
continued. “But if a patient comes in with chest pain related to the heart,
we know the 16-slice scanner has not been as successful in detecting heart problems.
So we would perform a standard coronary angiogram (a simple X-ray image of blood
vessels after they are filled with contrast dye) on the patient, as well as offer
that person a 64-slice CT scan for our research purposes.
“These clinical trials,” Saini said, “will help us determine
if CT scans of the heart are as good as a standard angiogram in diagnosing coronary
artery disease or other heart complications.”
CT scans have been used since the 1970s to visualize
certain organs and parts of the body slice by slice. They can assist
stroke, head injury,
bone and soft tissue damage in trauma patients, and herniated discs, among
other things. CT scanners come equipped with single-slice, four-slice, eight-slice,
16-slice and 64-slice imaging systems—the more slices a machine offers,
the more precise the scans.
The two new scanners (one made by GE Healthcare and
the other by Siemens Medical Solutions) work faster than other multislice
to 20. This is helpful for imaging pediatric and geriatric patients who may
have trouble lying still while holding their breath during the scans. The
also can reduce patients’ stress and anxiety.
With a single scan, the 64-slice CT scanners can help
rule out certain life-threatening conditions such as aortic dissections
in the wall of the aorta) and
pulmonary embolisms (a blockage of an artery in the lung).
“Research-driven institutions like Emory hope to lead the way in investigating
the best possible diagnostic methods for all sorts of conditions, for the benefit
of the patient,” Saini said.