Enhanced medical imaging comes to Tuba City Regional health care facility

New state-of-the-art CT scanner enhances diagnostic capabilities

The new CT (computed tomography) scanner in use at the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corp. (TCRHCC) radiology department.

The new CT (computed tomography) scanner in use at the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corp. (TCRHCC) radiology department.

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - The ability for doctors and health care providers at Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation (TCRHCC) to examine images from inside the body, and see and diagnose problems has been greatly enhanced with the delivery of a new CT (computed tomography) scanner in the radiology department. The Toshiba Aquilion scanner is one of the most advanced 32 slice CT scanners available. The unit is truly state-of-the-art. The manufacturer claims that the unit is the most flexible choice of speed and accuracy in CT scanning.

Unlike x-rays where images are taken on film and held up to a light for viewing and interpretation, a CT image is viewed on a computer and can be rotated and viewed from any angle in color and in 3-D.

Computed tomography is an imaging method that employs digital geometry processing to generate a three-dimensional image of the inside of an object from a large series of two-dimensional x-rays.

"About 10 patients per day receive CT scans for various parts of the body," said Elizabeth Schneider, radiology director. "We have the capacity to do quite a few more. The image quality is much higher than what we had in the past and scans take much less time than before."

"We have begun [using CT for] virtual colonoscopies which are far superior and more comfortable for the patient than optical colonoscopies. We also intend to begin cardiac (heart) scanning soon," Schneider said.

The term "32 slice" means that the unit has 32 detectors (the older unit had only four) which enables the unit to scan much faster, and doses of radiation used in creating the images are significantly reduced. A traditional CT angiogram (image of the inside of a blood vessel) that usually take 60 seconds now take just 15 seconds with the new unit. The CT scanner is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week as there are four registered CT technicians on staff.

"The new scanner is especially good for trauma patients," said Schneider. A scan can be made from head to pelvis in as little as 30 seconds, then the images can be reviewed immediately in house, or sent out over the Internet for review by a specialist."

"The image quality of this new unit is superior, improving our diagnostic capabilities," said Dr. Alan Spacone, chief medical officer. "In addition to virtual colonoscopies, we'll be able to greatly improve vascular (heart and blood vessel) studies. Because of the unit's speed, patients spend less time during the study, lessening any attendant discomfort."

Cost justification for the new unit was easy for Chief Financial Officer Cliff Olsson.

"The annual maintenance cost on the old unit was higher than the lease on the new unit," said Olsson. "The new CT scanner pays for itself on that element alone. Doing our own imaging here is obviously better for patient care and we save money by not sending patients to other medical centers."

Because the images from the new CT scanner are so precise, in cases such as cardiac studies more invasive procedures can be avoided.

About Tuba City Regional Health Care Corp.

TCRHCC, located in Tuba City, consists of a 73-bed acute care referral hospital and integrated health system. It provides a broad range of outpatient specialized care services in addition to inpatient care. The patient population includes Navajo, Hopi and San Juan Southern Paiute. Its mission is to provide accessible, quality, culturally sensitive health care.

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