Technology brings better imaging, faster scans

April 25, 2018

The new CT scanner is now up and running at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray, much to the delight of Diagnostic Imaging Manager Cora Therrien, left, and her team of Winona Winsor, Jen Oger, Helayna Clair and Chanchla Chouhan.

New CT scanner goes online in Fort McMurray

Story by Diana Rinne

FORT McMURRAY — The picture is looking better for patients here thanks to a new state-of-the-art computed tomography (CT) scanner that’s now up and running at Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC).

Funded through the Capital Equipment budget and Operations budget of Alberta Health Services (AHS), the $2M scanner will boost diagnostic imaging services with the most up-to-date technology.

The new Siemens Somatom Definition Edge is a 128-slice scanner, as opposed to the 64-slice Siemens machine it’s replacing. CT scanners take pictures of slices of the body, which are then stitched together and reconstructed in the computer to reveal detailed three-dimensional images. The more slices, the more detailed the image. CT scanners can verify the presence or absence of tumors, infections or changes within the body that result from trauma.

“We’re excited about this,” says Cora Therrien, Manager, Diagnostic Imaging at NLRHC. “It means quicker scan times, more advanced imaging and it has a number of different adaptive features that we’ll be able to use.”

The speed of the scans and the device’s adaptive features also mean that, depending on the scan(s) required, there’s potential to reduce the amount of ionizing radiation that patients are exposed to during the procedure.

Therrien says she’s looking forward to putting the remarkable imaging capability of the new scanner to good use.
“The way the images reconstruct is much clearer,” she adds. “For example, if somebody has had a hip replacement, normally the area around that piece of hardware would be difficult to see. With this software, we’ll be able to see that more clearly.”

The new technology will also allow optimal imaging in challenging cases, such as bariatric patients. “We’ll be able to get good scans with more ease and the 3D reconstructs are going to be great,” says Therrien.

A temporary mobile CT scanner performed scans for a month during the renovation and installation phase of the diagnostic imaging room which took just over a month. Staff also underwent a week of specialized training on the new system.

About 6,000 CT scans are taken annually at NLRHC.