New digital scanner comes to Riverwood


Riverwood Healthcare Center introduced a new image scanner early March that enhances patient care. The Radiology Department switched from using analog PET-CT (positron emission tomography-computed tomography) scans to digital PET-CT scans.

The key advantage of this new digital technology over analog scans is greater ability to detect lesions with more precision and clarity of images. Other benefits for patients include faster imaging with a shorter exam time, scanning that covers the whole body to eliminate the need for repositioning of patients, and motion correction in the event of slight body movements. And best of all, physicians can detect disease earlier and more accurately.

Digital PET-CT’s advanced reconstruction algorithm feature helps in reducing the scan time, and the patient’s radiation exposure is reduced by 50 to 70 percent.

How PET-CT’s work
A PET-CT scan is a nuclear medicine exam that produces a three-dimensional image of functional processes in the body. It uses a small amount of a drug, a radioactive glucose (sugar) called a tracer, to show differences in healthy and diseased tissue. Once injected with this agent, the patient’s whole body is imaged on the digital PET-CT scanner to reveal malignant lesions, which may have been overlooked or difficult to see with conventional CT scan, X-ray or MRI. The tracer often pinpoints the location of disease. For example, cancer cells show up brighter in the picture because they use more glucose than normal body tissues.

A PET scan measures important body functions, such as metabolism. It helps doctors evaluate how well organs and tissues are functioning. CT imaging uses special x-ray equipment, and in some cases a contrast material, to produce multiple images of the inside of the body, which a radiologist views and interprets on a computer monitor.

Combined PET-CT scanners perform almost all PET scans today. These combined scans help pinpoint abnormal metabolic activity and may provide more accurate diagnoses than the two scans performed separately.

Enhanced disease detection
A PET-CT scan is an effective way to help identify a variety of conditions, including cancer, heart disease and brain disorders. A physician can use this information to help diagnose, monitor or treat a patient’s condition. PET-CT scans are frequently used for cancer patient care, including detecting cancer, revealing whether a cancer has spread, checking whether a cancer treatment is working, and finding a cancer recurrence.

“Offering innovative imaging technology is one more way Riverwood is helping to improve the health of our patients,” said Dr. David Taylor, chief medical officer at Riverwood. “The digital PET-CT scan is one example of bringing state-of-the-art technology to greatly advance our community’s cancer care.”