CT Scanner Offers More Precise Images of Heart

Shereif Rezkalla, MD, FACP, FACC, Marshfield Clinic Interventional Cardiologist on staff at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital

A computed tomography (CT) scanner at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital and Marshfield Clinic is offering a more precise, detailed view of the heart.

The new CT scan from Siemens is a SOMATOM Sensation, the world’s first dual-source CT scanner, offering unprecedented image quality and revolutionary detail.

The image quality and the speed at which we can acquire images through CT scans has improved dramatically. The new CT scanner’s dual-source capability means it has two 64-slice scanning units and is able to make 128 imaging slices at a time, which translates into an ability to scan and collect advanced high-quality images of a beating heart.

The Siemens website reports that the new SOMATOM Sensation allows:

  • Examination of the entire vascular system without venous contamination
  • Robust imaging of the heart and the coronary arteries in only a few seconds
  • Accurate stenosis measurements for better management strategies

The new CT technology is a much more reliable test with an accurate result in various cardiovascular diseases.

Imaging the heart right is now essential. If a patient presents at the ER with chest pain, the pain could be coming from different places. It could be from the heart, it could be gastrointestinal, it could be an upset stomach, an ulcer, or a blood clot in the lungs. With this newer type of technology, it’s possible for the patient to be placed in the CT scanner, and the origin of the chest pain, whether the heart, stomach or lungs, can be determined. Then the management of the patient can be directed with more pinpoint accuracy.

The advantage with this type of unit is the image quality. A stop-image of the motion of the heart can be so clear, the technology can actually image the coronary arteries in almost the same way that a cardiac catheterization would. By having a CT scan of this type, we can review a patient’s coronary arteries without having to do a cardiac catheterization to find out whether there’s an area of suspected disease in the patient’s heart.

The scanning times are fast – usually a matter of minutes, a benefit to the patient.

Beyond the scans of the heart, any other CT scans that are done, whether they’re of the chest, or of the abdomen, the spine, the head … all of those are going to take place much more quickly than with what is traditionally done now.

In fact, with the advances in scanning and other technology that will become available at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital and Marshfield Clinic, and with more insurance companies accepting these modalities, the day will come when most if not all treatment for coronary artery disease will be done non-invasively.

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