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The Imaging Department at Southwestern
You have better things to do than to sit and wait for tests and results.
At CTCA at Southwestern Regional Medical Center (Southwestern), we recognize this and do everything we can to get you through your tests and to your results as soon as possible.
On average, you’ll stay in our waiting room for 10 minutes before having a diagnostic test performed. And, you typically receive test results in as little as eight hours.
In addition, we perform diagnostic scans in record time to collect extremely detailed sets of data, which optimize our chances of detecting small tumors.
Southwestern's Imaging Department has earned full accreditation by the American College of Radiology in all Imaging modalities, including MRI, CT, Nuclear Medicine, PET/CT, Mammogram, and Ultrasound.
The ACR awards accreditation to facilities that meet the highest level of standards for imaging quality and safety, and requires that image quality and procedure evaluations are conducted by board-certified radiologists and medical physicists who are experts in the field.
The Imaging Department's experienced staff includes board-certified radiologists and board-certified, fellowship-trained interventional radiologists.
A number of our physicians also have had additional training in subspecialties, such as molecular imaging and MRI. More so, all of our radiologic technologists have taken supplementary subspecialty examinations. They are either in-house or on-call seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Advanced Imaging Technology
At Southwestern, we use advanced medical imaging equipment to locate and eradicate cancer. Our equipment produces digital images, which we evaluate at post-processing work stations for abnormal anatomy and physiology. Each month, we perform approximately 1,600 imaging tests.
The following are just some of the imaging tools available at our cancer hospital:
This kind of mammography allows us to quickly acquire exceptionally sharp, digital images of the breasts. More so, it lets us obtain these images while exposing you to less radiation and discomfort than you would experience with traditional mammography.
Once the digital images are acquired and transmitted to a high-tech, digital mammography workstation, our radiologists analyze the images to determine the precise location and extent of the disease.
GE Discovery™ PET/CT 600 Scanner
In April 2009, Southwestern became the third hospital in the world and the first hospital in the nation to offer the GE Discovery™ PET/CT 600 Scanner.
This technology combines positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) imaging technology into one machine, providing greater image accuracy and shortening patient treatment times. The motion-free platform allows us to accurately detect multiple small lesions in areas of the body subject to movement. This is especially valuable for breast, lung, colon, renal, and prostate cancers.
GE 16-Slice CT Scanner
In September 2008, Southwestern completed installation of a new 16-slice computed tomography (CT) scanner, manufactured by GE Medical Systems. Our radiologists use this technology to obtain detailed diagnostic images, in reduced time, to plan radiation treatment.
This state-of-the-art four-dimensional CT scanner enables our radiologists to plan treatment in accordance with patients' breathing patterns. In addition, the GE 16-slice CT scanner is three to four times faster than conventional machines, so patients are able to get in and out of their appointments faster.
Using non-ionizing radiofrequency waves, powerful magnets, and a computer, this technology produces detailed, cross-sectional pictures of the inside of the body.
With MRI, we can distinguish between normal and diseased tissue to precisely pinpoint cancerous cells within the body. It is also useful in revealing metastases. The MRI system provides greater contrast between the different soft tissues of the body than a CT scan.
Multidetector CT Scanner
Our multidetector CT scanner allows us to see objects with micro-level detail. According to Siemens AG, the manufacturer of this equipment, the scanner collects up to 40 slices per rotation, resulting in an extraordinary resolution of .04 millimeters. Ultimately, this means we can acquire data with incredible speed, all the while producing images that are of superb quality, detail and clarity.
And something our patients appreciate is the fact that the increased width of the scanning space of this tool makes for a more comfortable, less claustrophobic experience as they undergo CT scans.
Siemens Multi-Modality Workstation
We also use a Siemens multi-modality workstation that includes body perfusion software. This enables our interventional radiologists to see—in real time—which portions of a tumor are most active. Physicians can then direct a targeted therapy at the more active portion of the tumor and study the effects of the therapy on the tumor in real time. In addition, we perform lung analysis using a state-of-the-art Vitrea® workstation by Vital Images.
Sodium Fluoride PET/CT Bone Scan
In 2011, Southwestern began providing a sodium fluoride PET/CT bone scan using the GE Discovery™ PET/CT 600 Scanner as a new bone scan option.
This new procedure provides increased accuracy in detecting the presence and extent of bone metastases, and monitoring the effectiveness of treatment, in patients with prostate, breast and lung cancers with metastases to the bone. Potential advantages include:
- High, rapid uptake in the bone with rapid blood clearance, producing superior quality images in 45-60 minutes
- Increased accuracy in detecting both osteolytic and osteoblastic bone metastases
- Greater differentiation of benign versus malignant lesions
- Improved ability to identify the presence and extent of bone metastases
This imaging technology uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of organs and tissues within the body. By capturing images in real time, ultrasound exams reveal the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, such as the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and liver.
Ultrasound can also be used to precisely locate the position of a tumor in order to guide a biopsy or aspiration procedure. For example, ultrasound may be used to mark out the boundaries of a tumor prior to its removal. It can also be used to administer treatments, such as local hyperthermia.
In Imaging Services, we also perform interventional radiology procedures. Interventional radiology is a subspecialty of radiology, in which minimally invasive procedures are performed using imaging guidance.
Radiography or ultrasonography are used to direct these procedures, which are usually performed with needles or other tiny instruments, such as catheters. The images provide road maps that allow the interventional radiologist to guide these instruments through a patient’s body to the areas of interest.
Many interventional radiology procedures for cancer treatment are performed on an outpatient basis or during a short hospital stay. In many cases, the procedures are less painful and debilitating for patients than exploratory surgical procedures. In addition, patients can typically recover more quickly and tend to have fewer side effects and complications.
The following are just some of the interventional procedures we perform at Southwestern:
Chemoembolization is an innovative therapy we use to treat certain types of liver cancer, or cancer that has spread to the liver from another organ.
In this procedure, a small catheter is inserted through a needle (with X-ray guidance) into the patient’s femoral artery, located in the groin. The interventional radiologist then threads the catheter through the aorta (the largest artery, located in the heart) and into the artery in the liver, which is the one that feeds the tumor. The interventional radiologist then injects chemotherapy into that artery. This concentrated dose hits the tumor directly.
CT fluoroscopy may be conducted via our new multidetector CT scanner. Interventional radiologists can complete CT fluoroscopy using live CT images to help position the probe/needle in and around critical anatomical structures, such as the heart, lungs and spine to obtain the best tumor specimen. It also allows physicians to drain thoracic, abdominal, pelvic and retroperitoneal lesions.
The live images reduce the length of a biopsy procedure, saving time for both the patient and the physician.
CT fluoroscopy also removes the effect of the patient’s breathing and motion on image quality. It helps allow for accurate depth and direction of the needle during procedures.
CT-guided biopsy involves removing a small piece of tissue for a physician to examine.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a treatment in which we direct radiofrequency waves (heat) at the tumor to destroy the cancerous cells. Since cancer cells are vulnerable to heat, RFA can destroy them by raising their temperature through the radiofrequency waves.
In this procedure, the interventional radiologist inserts a special needle electrode into the tumor using CT or ultrasound guidance. A radiofrequency current then is passed through the electrode to the tumor tissue near the needle tip to ablate—or eliminate—it. The heat from the radiofrequency energy also closes up small blood vessels, thereby minimizing the risk of bleeding.
Our body perfusion post-processing software allows us to monitor blood flow to the tumors before, during and after RFA procedures. It helps us to determine if we have terminated blood flow to the tumor.
RFA is a minimally invasive way to eliminate tumors in organs such as the liver, lungs or kidneys. It is also used to treat metastatic bone cancer.
TheraSphere® is a treatment of localized, internal radiation that destroys tumor cells with minimal injury to surrounding, healthy liver tissue. It consists of millions of tiny glass beads (20-30 micrometers in diameter). Each bead has radioactive Yttrium-90 in it. These TheraSpheres are injected into the main artery of the liver by the radiation oncologist, through a catheter or small tube placed in by the interventional radiologist. The tiny radioactive glass beads are delivered directly to the liver tumor via its blood vessels.
GE Innova IGS 540 Interventional Radiology Suite
In April 2012, Southwestern acquired the GE Innova IGS 540 Interventional Radiology (IR) Suite.
The state-of-the-art IR Suite allows our radiologists to obtain detailed images of difficult-to-reach tumors and perform real-time image-guided interventional procedures.
The state-of-the-art IR Suite offers multi-modality image-fusion capabilities and navigation, road mapping, and image-guided intervention technologies. These capabilities provide greater image accuracy, visualization and treatment of tumors in difficult-to-reach areas, such as in the thyroid, lungs and liver.