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Home : News : Article Display
NEWS | March 29, 2006

Scanner improves imaging

By 1st Lt. Elizabeth Kreft 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

One new machine will give Langley medical personnel the ability to diagnose and treat their patients faster than ever.

The 1st Medical Group recently acquired a General Electric Lightspeed Volume Computed Tomography 64 detector, multi-slice scanner -- the most advanced version of CT scanners.

Boasting the clearest CT image resolution, it provides Langley’s doctors an unprecedented view of their patients.

“This new scanner is highly advanced and places the 1st Med Group ahead of today’s imaging standards,” said Staff Sgt. Cary Sheppard, CT scans noncommissioned officer in charge. “It is much more effective.”

Though most people still refer to this procedure as a “CAT scan” that verbiage is now obsolete thanks to technological advances in the last few years.

“Computed Axial Tomography, or a CAT scan, is an old term because axial refers to only one visual plane,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Martinez, Picture Archiving Communication System noncommissioned officer in charge. “CT scanners now include sagittal, a sideway anatomical view, and coronal, the view from front to back.”

Essentially, the new CT scanners give a 360 degree view of a patient so the images produced are clearer than ever.

“This scanner is definitely one of the best in the entire country; it is the top of the line.”

Speed is key

Patients will be able to observe the improvement through the accuracy of diagnoses and the time it takes to complete a scan.

“The new machine can finish a whole-body scan in less than 60 seconds,” said Sergeant Sheppard.

The time required to finish a scan is not only a matter of convenience; it is critical to the accuracy of the imaging because the patient must remain totally still while the machine works.

“It improves studies on pediatric patients, because it makes the entire process more precise and much faster,” said Sergeant Martinez.

Anyone who has attempted to hold a toddler still for 30 minutes knows the truth of that statement.

Better images

The new Langley CT scanner has 64 detectors that collect the imagery information passed through the body, four times the number of detectors found in the majority of CT machines found around the country.

“This new machine can capture image slices that are just about half a millimeter thick, when our old images were at least five millimeters thick,” said Sergeant Sheppard.

While a few millimeters hardly seems like a big upgrade, when trying to find a three millimeter-thick kidney stone, it makes all the difference.

“What the scanner does is give us the ability to do more advanced studies, rather than just a regular CT scan,” said Dr. (Capt.) Steven Zieber, 1st Medical Group staff radiologist.

The new CT machine can provide the answers to doctor’s questions about almost any internal issue, ranging from chronic headaches to pulmonary clots. Since December more than 500 patients have used the new CT scanner, and the results have impressed Langley radiologists.

“Our new scanner has taken us from being a little behind, to being in the forefront of medical technology,” said Dr. Zieber. “It has increased what we can do for patient care here instead of having to send them downtown or to Portsmouth Naval Hospital.”