Brockville General Hospital Upgrades its CT scanner

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Brockville General Hospital, based in Brockville, Ontario, has replaced its old CT scanner by a new one with higher capabilities. The new scanner has already been used for the first few patients, according to the hospital officials.

Deb Wilson, manager of diagnostic imaging at BGH, explained the advantages of the new scanner: "The old system was what is called a four-slice machine. The new one is a 64 up to 128-slice machine. So there is more volume to be found, more images and more information from the images."

CT scanning is a non-invasive medical imaging test that uses a combination of specific X-ray equipment and sophisticated computer imaging software to produce multiple pictures of various parts inside the human body. Each image is referred to as a slice. The slices are merged to produce a cross-section image of the area causing concern, according to medical sources.

Scanners are used for a wide variety of purposes, such as diagnosing an injury or aliment, guiding biopsies, abscess drainage and minimally invasive tumour treatments. The images help clinicians develop plans to assess and treat injuries and measure bone mineral density.

"Before, a lot of patients had to go to Ottawa or Kingston for their CT treatment, but now we will be able to treat more patients from the community here in Brockville,"  Wilson added.

The CT scanner, which retails anywhere from $1.1 to $1.3 million, has been on the hospital's wish list for a few years, at full price, but was not within BGH's budget, Wilson  noted. "It was on the horizon, certainly," said Wilson. "It was indicated by the physicians in hospital that this was definately something we needed to look at, but it was not within our grasp financially. The fact that we were able to find the scanner at a greatly reduced price was amazing." Each year, the Radiological Society of North America has a large equipment show in Chicago, and this helped BGH to find the CT scanner," she said.

Toshiba, the manufacturer, was unable to sell a demo model at full cost, so the company made it available to their Canadian representatives at a discounted price. The BGH was able to buy and install the new scanner for $740,000, saving more than 40 percent. Ray Marshall, the BGH president and CEO, said: "Our existing scanner has been in operation since the fall of 2003 and is nearing the end of its useful life."

The hospital staff is greatly optimistic about the new scanner and its ability to provide medical treatment that has never been available before in Brockville. Wilson commented, "We hope to be able to do cardiac CT cases, which has never been done in Brockville before, as well as virtual colonography, as well not done in Brockville before. That will be further down the road, six months to a year, but we are hopeful."

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