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Hospitals in Ontario improve care with nuclear medicine scanners

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Hospitals in Ontario improve care with nuclear medicine scanners

 Peterborough's Dr. Paul Wilson, Nancy Cafik and Brad Plain with the new BrightView XCT.
Peterborough's Dr. Paul Wilson, Nancy Cafik and Brad Plain with the new BrightView XCT.

 

The Peterborough Regional Health Centre has become one of the first hospitals in Canada to acquire a new hybrid technology from Philips - the BrightView XCT system. The next-generation imaging system, which integrates a BrightView co-planar SPECT with flat-panel CT technology, promises to join the sensitivity of nuclear medicine with CT scanning's ability to pinpoint the anatomic location of a problem.

 

"What nuclear medicine has traditionally provided us with is an extremely sensitive modality for imaging, but one with relatively low specificity for what we are doing," said Dr. Paul Wilson, chief of diagnostic imaging as well as a general radiologist at the Peterborough facility. "What the CT SPECT really does is to introduce that anatomic element. Overlapping the CT image is a way to improve the spatial resolution of the test that we are doing, so we can increase the specificity of what we are looking at."

 

In a community hospital setting like in Peterborough, the new system has proven invaluable in situations such as bone scans of elderly patients.

 

Peterborough Regional Health Centre is also using the system to merge off-site CT images with nuclear medicine scans taken with the Philips machine. "We have the ability to be able to go back using a regular diagnostic CT - not the CT SPECT - and overlay the nuclear medicine images to get the same information," said Dr. Wilson. "That is more of a software component of what this introduces, but that is a great thing to be able to do as a troubleshooting tool."

 

Because the Peterborough centre does "not do a huge amount of more complex nuclear medicine cases, for us we are finding it mainly useful for bone scans and sometimes for therapy planning, particularly for people with chronic pain. Basically, anywhere where anatomy and localization of whatever tracer we are using in the nuclear medicine department, whatever disease we are looking for where localization and anatomic placement of the problem becomes problematic or difficult to determine, this is going to prove to be useful."

 

To a degree, the Peterborough facility has felt the effects of the current radioisotope shortage, specifically the supply of technetium, which has put constraints on workflow in nuclear medicine. "It hasn't affected the volume that we are able to do, what it does affect is what days of the week we can do certain studies and it doesn't give us as much leeway for doing emergencies," commented Dr. Wilson.

 

The nuclear medicine component of the Philips BrightView system has also been installed recently in the Headwaters Health Care Centre in Orangeville, Ont. as part of that facility's ongoing effort to broaden its diagnostic capabilities. "Formerly the patients had to leave the hospital to get nuclear medicine studies," said Headwaters' CEO Cholly Boland. "That piece of information then had to be incorporated into the patient record and was an inconvenience for the patient. Now we have, for want of a better term, one-stop shopping for diagnostic imaging services."

 

The Philips system also presented Headwaters with a compelling business case: it no longer bears the transportation costs to ship patients to other facilities for nuclear medicine tests and "it does generate a certain amount of revenue through OHIP to the hospital which is helping to pay for the service," said Boland. Having a suite of scans available under one roof has also cut wait times significantly in cases where patients require a combination of tests.

 

Headwaters, which has been conducting an average of eight nuclear medicine scans daily since mid-Septmember, is mainly using the system for cardiac studies with a lesser number of bone and thyroid scans, said Scott Edmonstone, the hospital's diagnostic imaging manager. "The bone scans are primarily for determining the levels of cancer. With the cardiac scans it is an indication that they need to go for a more involved study."

 

The addition of the Philips scanner only adds to Headwaters' impressive status within the province. "We have the shortest public wait times not only for our DI modalities but our surgery and ER in Ontario, and probably the highest patient satisfaction in Ontario."



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