Diagnostic imaging capabilities at Children's Hospital's & Research Center Oakland leaped forward in February when the department began using its new, state-of-the-art, multislice CT scanner. It offers the most advanced imaging capabilities available and is much faster than the old scanner. "Patient set-up will take longer than the actual scan," said James Grosskopf, Diagnostic Imaging's administrative director.
Technologists will be able to perform a full chest and abdomen scan in 5 to 20 seconds. The new scanner is also fast enough to allow cardiac and respiratory "gating"-images can be timed to coincide with particular phases of the heartbeat or breathing cycle.
The new machine's speed will also help trauma and ER physicians evaluate patients much faster, and make it easier to do diagnostic imaging of young children who may once have needed sedation during such procedures.
To help children relax during scans, a specially designed projector will be installed; it can shine images onto the wall of the scanner room and inside the scanner itself, entertaining young children. Underwater and fireworks theme images are part of the "light show" package, paid for by the Children's Hospital Foundation.
Pixar, the Oscar-winning computer animation studio based nearby in Emeryville, will also help; the studio plans to decorate the walls of the waiting room and induction room with images from its film library.
Computerized Tomography (CT) scanning creates multiple X-ray images of the body; computer software quickly puts them together into detailed 2-D and 3-D anatomical images. The Philips "Brilliance" hardware/software package will offer advanced imaging to physicians working with Children's, including those working with specialists in orthopaedics, craniofacial and cardiac services.
The high speed and resolution offered by the Brilliance will also "further enhance Children's ability to diagnose complex abnormalities," said Ron Cohen, MD, Diagnostic Imaging's medical director.
Children's plans to share its pediatric CT scanning experience and expertise with Philips as part of an agreement to be a (beta) test site for new imaging software. This will help Children's stay on top of the latest CT scanning technology.
The new scanner also keeps radiation exposure to the minimum needed for high quality imaging. "Children's Hospital has been a leader in low-dose CT scanning for some time," said Dr. Cohen. "The new CT scanner and newly-installed computed radiography and fluoroscopic equipment allow us to provide digital imaging with the lowest possible radiation exposure. Because Children's Hospital only serves children, we pay very close attention to the radiation associated with diagnostic imaging using x-rays."
Space for the new scanner already exists, built during the main hospital's last major remodeling project. The existing scanner, the fastest on the market in 1997 when it was installed, will be kept as a backup scanner for a limited period of time.
As always, CT scanning will be available at Children's Oakland campus 24/7 by technologists trained on the new machine.