Hospital acquires new CAT scanner

Four times faster is better when holding one's breath.

That is the advantage the Barnwell County Hospital has with a new CT (computed tomography) scanner.
The General Electric Brightspeed 16 slice CT scanner operates four times faster and takes four times more slices (images) than the old one.

"It used to take 40 seconds (scan), but now it takes about 10-15 seconds, one breath - and when the scanner rotates it takes 16 images," said Paula Creech, a technician certified in radiologic technology and computed tomography.

Creech is one of the wizards behind the curtain at the hospital who runs the machine.

The scanner arrived at the hospital during the last week of December and it was up and running by Jan. 5, said Bob Waters, the former chief executive officer for Barnwell County Hospital.

Since the CT scanner's arrival, Waters retired. Mary Wisner is now thev interim CEO.

The machine is capable of performing CT angiography which examines and evaluates vessels in the head, neck, chest, abdomen and legs, said Creech.

It also offers highly detailed orthopedic images, she said.

CT scanners use X-rays to map the human body and its structures. Scans produce highly detailed images (slices) of the area or organ which are displayed on a computer screen in multidimensional, cross-sectional pictures by computer software.

"The scanner can image everything except for the coronaries (blood vessels vessels surround ing the heart)," said Creech. "It can diagnose from vascular disease to kidney stones to diseased vessels."

The CT scanner uses numerous X-rays - a form of low dose radiation- that are directed at the body.
But the scanner makes an image designed with health in mind.

Protocols were designed to ensure the lowest dose of radiation possible for diagnostic imaging. A protocol is what a physician orders, said Creech.

In addition to being safe - the scanner is technology that is close to home for Barnwell County residents.

"Patients will no longer have to drive an hour or more to get the most advanced testing done," said Creech.

Those who are expecting a CT scan should wear loose clothing and follow physician instructions for pre-exam preparation, she said.

BCH landed a good deal for the scanner with a five-year lease and maintenance for $9,300.

"It's no increase in cost to the hospital -we got it for the same price we were leasing the four-slice scanner," said Waters.