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Hamon Tower Features Texas’ First Flash CT
11/30/2009

DALLAS — The new Hamon Tower at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is the first facility in Texas and among the first in the country to begin using Flash CT, the world’s fastest CAT scanner that eliminates the need for some exploratory surgeries and helps doctors diagnose life-threatening conditions in seconds.

Dr. Cynthia Sherry
Dr. Cynthia Sherry
Click photo to download hi-res image

The 128-slice scanner captures high definition images so rapidly that radiation exposure is significantly reduced, representing an important advancement in CT scan diagnostics. For routine scans, exposure to radiation can be slashed by up to 50 percent. For cardiac scans, radiation dosage can be reduced by more than 90 percent.

The Flash CT scanner is part of Hamon Tower’s new radiology department, which includes a new generation of MRI machines that reduce claustrophobia while maintaining the high-definition imaging of closed MRI machines.

“These technologies are aimed at catching diseases earlier and more effectively treating conditions before they become life-threatening,” said Dr. Cynthia Sherry, chair of radiology at Texas Health Dallas. “They improve the health of patients, while reducing costs by eliminating unnecessary tests and improving outcomes.”

CT scans — sometimes called CAT scans — are noninvasive imaging tests that combine special X-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body. These cross-sectional images of the area being studied can then be examined on a computer monitor. CT scans of internal organs, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater clarity and reveal more details than regular X-ray exams.

But modern CT machines often deliver heavy does of radiation, and some people have to take beta-blockers to slow their heart rates. Other medications are sometimes required so people don’t move during the scans.

The “shutter speed” of Flash CT’s $2-million camera is so quick that an entire chest scan can be done in a half second — so patients don’t have to hold their breath or take medications to slow their heart rates. Other movements, whether a child’s nervous fidgeting or an older patient’s Parkinson’s tremor, do not blur images of internal organs.

“It’s called ‘flash’ because that’s how long it takes to get detailed, three-dimensional images of the inside of the body,” she said. “The result is double resolution, double speed and twice the power, while lowering radiation doses.”

The detail provided by Flash CT allows physicians to see some cardiac blockages that, in the past, required intravascular cardiac catheterization procedures to diagnose. In some cases, the patient may not have a blockage or serious condition at all. In other instances, chest pain can be caused by potentially deadly non-cardiac complications, like an aortic aneurysm or a blood clot in the lungs.

“This kind of imaging technology helps us catch deadly conditions sooner. It also makes the system of diagnosis and treatment more efficient,” said Dr. Mark Till, medical director of emergency medicine at Texas Health Dallas. “There’s a real cost to not being able to rule out certain conditions: these patients are sometimes admitted to the hospital because we fear there might be a serious underlying cardiac issue we simply can’t identify.”

Now, in a matter of minutes, physicians will be able to rule out possible causes of some conditions, possibly allowing some patients who would have otherwise spent hours or days in the hospital to go home the same afternoon.

Flash CT can help radiologists even identify the chemical makeup of certain tissues within the body. That means physicians can now differentiate between a heart attack and a heart infection, arthritis and gout, a blood clot and other respiratory problems.

Deadly conditions like aortic dissections can be diagnosed in seconds. Different kinds of kidney stones can be determined by looking at a computer screen. Brain aneurysms close to the skull are now easily identifiable. The machine can also quickly and accurately detect what kind of stroke or brain bleed a person is suffering.

About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is an 866-bed acute care hospital and recognized clinical program leader, having provided compassionate care to the residents of Dallas and surrounding communities since 1966. U.S. News and World Report has ranked Texas Health Dallas among the nation’s best hospitals in digestive disorders, orthopedics, and neurology and neurosurgery. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Dallas has approximately 4,000 employees and an active medical staff of more than 1,000 physicians. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/dallas.

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