The hospital received a new CT scan machine about a month ago and finished preparing it for patient use on Dec. 11.
"We are so grateful and thankful that the hospital was able to do this," Radiology Technician Autumn Drake said. "This was kind of our Christmas present."
Purchased from GE Healthcare, the new machine drastically cuts down both the time in which the patient is being scanned and the time it takes to receive results of the scan.
"On average, I would say the new machine cuts about one-third of the time off each scan," Radiology Manager Jesse Lund said. "A scan of the abdomen used to take about 45 minutes to complete and now takes about 30."
Drake is also appreciative of the efficiency of the new CT scans.
"A head scan used to take three minutes, but it can now be done in less than a minute," she said. "It also produces results very quickly which makes things a lot less complex for both the patients and doctors."
The previous machine was only six-and-a-half years old and still in good shape, but its technology was lagging behind.
"Our old machine produced only a single-slice image, whereas the new one gives us a 16-slice image and 3-D reconstructions as well," Lund said. "This is a truly state-of-the-art machine and the updated technology allows us to have more information to work with to better diagnose problems. With so many advances in technology in recent years, this was definitely necessary."
A CT scan is an imaging method in which a cross-sectional picture of a portion of the body is reconstructed using a computer program. The image is reconstructed from x-ray beams projected through the body. For many of the scans, a contrast is injected into the veins to help project the images more clearly.
Scans can detect blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, aneurysms and numerous abdominal and pelvic diseases. They can also be used to determine the severity of fractures.
"We are able to use the machine to view the decompression level in various bone fractures and figure out the best way of treatment," St. Vincent Clay Assistant Medical Director for the Emergency Department Jim Spiller said. "Along with the quicker speed and increased information from the machine, the increased number of slices we can view provides a much clearer picture of what is going on."
Another added benefit of the machine is it is more patient-friendly.
"I have had many positive responses from patients who have had CT scans with the new machine, including that the table is much more comfortable because it is padded better," Drake said. "Also, with the increased speed of the scans, patients do not have to be on the table as long."
Radiologist Dr. Sri Malyala said the new machine has virtually no limitations.
"The one thing which can hamper the scan is if a patient has a metal rod or plate somewhere inside their body," he said. "However, we are able to work around this fairly easily."
The installation of the new CT scan is one of many improvements in patient health care St. Vincent Clay Hospital has planned.
"We also put in a permanent MRI machine last year and plan to keep expanding our diagnostic abilities here at the hospital," St. Vincent Clay Chief Financial Officer Wayne Knight said. "I hope the population of the city and county can see that our ability to bring in new and up-to-date technology is another sign of our commitment to their health and well-being."