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CT scanner accommodates obese patients
A new computed tomographic (CT) scanning device will vastly improve
treatment of patients who are morbidly obese who had to travel to other
facilities to get needed scanning. The new specialized scanners
are large enough to support the extra weight and size.
The Siemens Definition AS CT will be one of only two in the country
(Mayo Clinic has the other one) that comes with a payload of 660
pounds, which is sturdy enough to support the majority of the morbidly
obese. Previously available CT scanners could only support a person who
weighed up to 450 pounds.
The CT also has a larger girth than current CT scanners. The wide
opening also is helpful for use on patients with claustrophobia, said
MUSC radiologist U. Joseph Schoepf, M.D., who urged Siemens to develop
“We had gotten a lot of requests for scanning on patients who are
morbidly obese,” Schoepf said. “Unfortunately, the only way to get
scans of a lot of these patients is to send them away to North Carolina
or Georgia veterinary facilities to use their large animal scanners.”
Schoepf said that not only was this demeaning, but it discouraged a
significant segment of society from seeking help. The alternative was
for doctors to perform exploratory procedures on these patients, who
generally are vulnerable to a host of physical illnesses and
“Now, having this new CT scanner increases our abilities so that we can
care for these people,” Schoepf said.
While the new CT scanner has stronger generators that have sufficient
power to penetrate large patients in order to provide high quality
imaging studies, it also utilizes new features using so-called adaptive
scanner technology, which actually reduces the radiation dose by
cutting redundant radiation scanning. This provides a type of dose
“We are able to focus the radiation on specific areas that we are
seeking to scan,” Schoepf said. “We're able to direct the radiation
where we want and need it; and it turns off over areas where we do not
For big and small people
While the CT scanner would be immediately useful for digestive disease
treatment, it also is useful for women and younger individuals seeking
low-radiation heart scans.
Schoepf said that because the scanner can be programmed to turn up,
down, dim and react as it adapts to the cardiac sequence, it is
indicated for use in women and younger individuals where radiation
exposure is of greater concern.
“Radiation exposure from heart CT scans is more significant in women,
since the sensitive breast tissue is always in the scan field,” Schoepf
said. “We use CT in a fair number of younger, fairly healthy women to
rule out false positive nuclear studies, and the new scanner allows us
to do that with a fraction of the radiation.”
The scanner, which produces 128 slices of detailed cardiac information,
uses up to 80 percent less radiation than conventional CT scanners. It
also is more robust with irregular heart rates than previous scanners,
Schoepf said. The scanner can read hearts with irregular rhythms and
arrhythmia and adjust the scan sequence to the changing heart rate on
MUSC radiologists use CT devices to assist in a variety of procedures.
Among the uses of the new CT device, a body perfusion setting enables
the table to shuttle the patient back and forth to measure blood flow
through various organs, such as the brain in stroke patients. Based on
this feature, the new scanner can also provide real-time intervention
and guidance for biopsies, Schoepf said.
Friday, April 18, 2008
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