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Intelligent Scanner Improves Patient Care

27 JANUARY 2004

Intelligent Scanner Improves Patient Care At North Shore

North Shore Hospital’s new state-of-the-art multi-slice CT Scanner (computerised tomography) is so sophisticated it will look after itself as well as the patients it scans.

Like some modern motorcars, the machine can tell staff when maintenance is required and manufacturers from as far away as Singapore and Germany will be able to remotely monitor its performance in the future.

There are also three Auckland-based service personnel to assist in maintaining the new equipment when necessary.

Radiologist Dr Mark Barnett says the new CT scanner produces images of a superior quality to the old one and can determine conditions ranging from bone fractures to cancer. It will scan 20 to 25 patients per day.

“The clarity of these images and the detail with this new machine is just mind-blowing. We’ll be able to diagnose things much more accurately. It’s like a top of the line European car that knows when to brake and adjust its suspension compared to a model T,” Dr Barnett says.

The new scanner uses radiation safely and efficiently by automatically adjusting the amount required according to the thickness of the body part passing through the machine.

It will also deal more efficiently with generated heat allowing it to run continuously without the need for cool-down periods.

CT Scanners combine X-Ray and computer technology to produce pictures and the new model can generate multiple cross-sectional images of the body at once to enable 3D views.

The old machine generated only one view at a time and took far longer to process this information.

Once captured, the digital images are stored in the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) making hard copy film unnecessary and saving space.

The scanner is worth over a million New Zealand dollars and Dr Barnett believes the significant improvements it offers make it worth every cent.

“It’s a significant capital investment but it’s state of the art technology. We can be proud of what we’ve got here. We’ve got the diagnostic tools and the people to use them,” he says.

Staff underwent five days of specialist training on the new CT scanner earlier this month.

The scanner was installed at the hospital in mid December and will be in full time use from February 2. It is currently being used alongside the old machine while staff familiarise themselves with the new equipment.

“We’re doing two to four patients a day on the new machine as we work to optimise our technique. We’ll have an overlap until February when we’ll start solely using the new machine. It’s hugely exciting,” Dr Barnett says.

The old machine will be removed from service in early February.


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