March 6, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Plaque that causes atherosclerosis is very visible using this CT scan. Atherosclerosis is usually detected through a stress test or angiography that involves injecting a radio-opaque contrast agent into the bloodstream and taking an image using an x-ray technique called fluoroscopy. Due to the ability to detect and identify the type of plaque in a patient’s arteries, doctors can accurately predict and prevent a potential heart attack. Before the invention of this state-of-the-art CT scanner, cardiologists used to have difficulty foreseeing a looming heart attack from the results of less technologically advanced machines.
With the ability to better predict heart attacks, doctors can now apply aggressive treatment to decrease the risk of heart attacks in select high-risk patients. Determining which patients are at lower or higher peril eliminates the need to subject low-risk patients to additional tests to predict impending heart attacks. The 256-slice CT scanning machine can also detect vascular problems in the entire body since it can capture images of renal, leg and carotid arteries.
The 256-slice scanner provides more information with each split second rotation as compared to a 64-slice CT scanner that takes 4 rotations and a 16-slice CT scanner that requires 16 rotations. The latter two scanners take much longer to produce images and may require administering medication to slow heart rate to be able to get accurate images.
The swiftness of how a 256-slice CT scanner operates is also a great advantage for children. With the older types of CT scanners, some young patients would have to be sedated to prevent them from moving while an image is being taken. Sedation is no longer necessary if the entire process takes only a second.
Besides the fact that this new state-of-the-art machine is able to help doctors make better and earlier diagnoses, it is also able to take accurate and fast images with less exposure to radiation. Previous to the invention of this fast acting CT scanner, medical radiation would account for 50% of a person’s lifetime exposure to radioactive materials.
It is presumed that this much exposure possibly accounts for 2 percent of all cancer cases. It is also likely responsible for some cataract cases. The 256-slice CT scanner will expose a heart patient to 60 percent less radiation than what older scanners would. Some studies reveal that it can even reduce radioactive exposure by 90 percent. One-time exposure to an old 64-slice CT scanner is equivalent to thousands of chest x-rays. Exposure to a 256-slice CT scanner equals to about 100 chest x-rays.