Mercy Health Love County - News

Film X-rays Made To Disappear At Hospital Radiology Department

Posted on Friday, December 11th, 2009

Speedy X-Ray: Elijah Churchill, 3, has a chest x-ray with assistance from his mother, Jamie Churchill. Elijah was one of the first patients to benefit when imaging plates replaced film in the creation of x-rays at Mercy Health/Love County Hospital, Clinic and EMS. He is the great-grandson of the late Sue Cavitt of the hospital staff.
The radiology department at the hospital recently switched from film x-rays to digital x-rays, and that’s been just fine with Elijah Churchill.
The lively three-old has been recovering from bilateral pneumonia since April.
Though he tries to cooperate, sitting still with his arms over his head while radiologists take chest x-rays can be asking just a bit much.
The slightest movement or misalignment can ruin an x-ray and require the process to be repeated, said technologist Roseann Johnston.
The harder part used to be staying on the x-ray table for results – until the film could be developed, no one knew whether a re-take would be necessary.
But in September, Mercy Health/Love County Hospital, Clinic and EMS did away with film, the darkroom, and chemical processing in favor of phosphor imaging plates that can be quickly converted into digital files for instant viewing.
The technologists looked at Elijah’s most recent chest x-ray on a computer screen within seconds after taking it and declared him good to go.
Now Elijah and his mother, Jamie Churchill of Marietta, are happy. “This is lots faster and easier,” she said.
It’s no small step forward to be able to capture x-ray images on a medium other than film.
The technology is recent.
Over the past 10 years, computed radiography has overturned the previous 100 years of medical imaging.
That covers the 40-year career of radiology director Rick Stephens. “I wouldn’t have thought I would see so many advances,” he said.
Fellow technologist Marneta Dorsey also trained in film. But they have taken 742 images with the new system since September and note these additional features:
  • The patient no longer has to carry a film x-ray back to the clinic. Instead, a computer sends the image to the physician for reading by the time the patient arrives.
  • Film no longer has to be packaged and mailed or delivered by courier to Ardmore for interpretation by a radiologist. The computer network transmits the image and receives a return report the following day or a fax back the same day in an emergency.
  • Patient x-rays no longer have to be filed in bulky “jackets” and stored in file cabinets. Thanks to another new piece of equipment, the picture archiving communication system (PACS), all images are stored on a computer.

    A digitizer associated with PACS allows technologists to scan old x-ray films and convert them to digital images.
 Other radiology services in the department, including CT, bone scan, and ultrasound equipment, were already digitized.