By Diane Chun at the Gainesville Sun
Shands at the University of Florida has added some impressive new firepower to its arsenal of diagnostic weapons with the addition of the state’s first 320-Detector Row CT (or computerized tomography) scanner.
“This represents a huge leap in technology,” Dr. Anthony Mancuso said Tuesday while demonstrating the new Aquilion One system. Mancuso is a neuroradiologist in the UF College of Medicine and chairs the radiology department.
Mancuso explained that the new diagnostic equipment enables UF doctors to capture a three-dimensional image in a single pass of the CT scanner, without ever moving the patient, who is positioned on a table in the center of the doughnut-shaped scanner.
Even better, because the scanner can make a single pass in less than a second, it can capture a “4-D” video representation of the heart beating or blood flowing through the brain as it is happening. To put it in a timeframe, it takes about as long as a single heartbeat to capture that view.
CT scanner systems, which have been around since the 1970s, have been ranked by number of slices, progressing from four-slice to 16-slice to 32-slice machines. Today, the 64-slice system is the bread and butter of most diagnostic imaging departments.
A 64-slice scanner can produce a 3.2 cm view of a particular organ, or about an inch. To analyze what is going on in the whole heart, doctors must “stitch together” a series of images, each taken at a different moment in time.
Toshiba’s 320-slice (or 320-detector row) machine was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration last November. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore was the first medical institution in the United States to install the system.
Shands at UF has the first of Toshiba’s new-generation scanners in Florida. The Aquilion ONE weighs in at two tons and costs about $2.5 million, Shands officials said Tuesday.
Plans are to install a second 320-detector row CT scanner in the new cancer hospital now under construction across Archer Road.
The key selling point of the new system is the size of the detection area. Because it can cover up to 16 cm of anatomy, or roughly half a foot, the 320-slice scanner makes it feasible to capture an image of an entire organ, such as the brain or the heart, in a single scan. Radiologists will be able to track the contrast medium as it moves throughout an organ in a single study and without moving the exam table.
Dr. Michael Waters, who heads the stroke program at Shands UF, said the new scanner will save crucial time in assessing a patient’s risk of stroke “when time is brain.”
“This scanner replaces multiple imaging tests and the scan time is extremely fast,” Waters said. “We can precisely determine the at-risk brain tissue and the location of the blockage and begin appropriate treatment.”
Because a single scan can pinpoint a blocked artery or a ballooning aneurysm within the heart, the patient is exposed to less radiation and a lower dose of the contrast medium. It is also the only current imaging modality that shows tissue and bone in motion, such as joints moving, lungs breathing or the spine rotating.
Shands physicians expect to use the new scanner in cases of stroke, heart conditions, cancer and trauma, among others, reducing the time they need to make an accurate diagnosis from hours or days to a matter of minutes.
“This detector system is so fast that it is able to collect the information we need, quite literally, in a heartbeat,” Mancuso said.
Diane Chun can be reached at 374-5041 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.