Texas Health offers some of the most advanced imaging technologies available today.
Texas Health offers one the world’s fastest computed tomography (CAT or CT scan) machines, called Flash CT. The shutter speed of Flash CT’s camera is so quick that an entire chest scan can be done in half a second. This means that patients do not have to hold their breath or take medications to slow the heart rate. Three-dimensional color images of the heart help doctors evaluate coronary blood vessels. The detail of the images allows physicians to see some cardiac blockages that previously required cardiac catheterization procedures to diagnose. The high-speed scan also means that patients are exposed to significantly less radiation than the doses delivered by traditional CT scans.
Cardiovascular surgeons and anesthesiologists on the medical staff at Texas Health are using a new type of echocardiogram that provides the first-ever live three-dimensional images of the beating heart moments before surgery. The technology helps surgeons better determine the course of open-heart surgery and how to better treat people with heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Until now, doctors could see 3D images of heart valves only by looking directly at the valves during surgery – after the surgical site was “open” and the patient had been put on the bypass machine. At that point, the heart is not moving, so surgeons were not able to determine the functional integrity of a valve as it pumped blood. With live 3D pictures, surgeons can see the valves at work. In some cases, the images can help eliminate the need to replace heart valves that surgeons otherwise would not have known were healthy. The 3D images also can be taken before surgeons close the surgical site, telling them whether any leaks exist or whether additional procedures are needed.
Speed is of the essence when treating a heart attack. In a matter of minutes, a heart attack can permanently damage the cardiac muscle, causing major health problems and even death. The more quickly patients receive treatment, the more likely they are to have a positive outcome. That’s why Texas Health has helped implement a new Web-based wireless technology that allows paramedics and other EMS personnel to instantly transmit an EKG (electrocardiogram) from the scene of an accident or medical emergency to computers at the hospital. The readout is automatically printed and wirelessly sent to the smart phones of doctors and nurses. The system is designed to quickly identify a type of heart attack known as a STEMI (ST elevation myocardial infarction). The American Heart Association estimates that nearly 400,000 people in the United States experience a STEMI every year. Studies have shown that “prehospital” EKGs can quicken treatment times by allowing clinicians to prepare for the patient while he or she is still en route to the hospital.
Minimally Invasive Heart Procedures