CT and Bone Density Scans Offered at Hospital
Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
There’s a new answer to the old riddle, “What’s black and white and “read” all over?” Not just the newspaper anymore.
Now there are CT and bone density scans. These are high-resolution black and white images of the body that reveal more about what’s going on inside than a simple x-ray.
The best news of all: Scans are being taken and read for patients at Mercy Health/Love County Hospital and Clinic.
The two scanners, installed over the winter, have broadened the scope of the radiology department and brought high-demand services to Marietta.
“We are very happy to have these scanners that are saving a lot of people from driving to Ardmore or elsewhere,” said Rick Stephens, radiology director.
He and fellow technologists Marneta Dorsey and Roseann Johnston have been performing about 40 CT scans per month since February.
The powerful CT scanner is the largest and most expensive piece of equipment ever purchased by the hospital. A modular structure had to be built to house it. An enclosed walkway connects the building to an existing wing of the hospital
The equipment, Stephens said, is used mainly to look at internal injuries, such as a torn kidney, spleen, or liver; or bony injuries in the spine. The technologists also scan for tumors, aneurysms, and bleeding.
The CT scanner looks like a large doughnut set on end. During the scan, the patient lies on a bed that slides slowly back and forth beneath the opening of the scanner to allow the scanner to take internal pictures of the body. The test takes about five minutes.
CT scans are far more detailed than ordinary x-rays. Instead of sending out a single beam through the body, several beams are sent simultaneously at different angles. The computerized images present two-dimensional cross-sections detailed enough to reveal tumors, abscesses, tears, or swelling to the highly-trained radiology doctors who interpret them.
The machine does not touch the patient. The procedure is painless. No preparation is needed except for abdominal scans, for which the patient drinks an x-ray dye in advance. This makes the intestines easier to see on the pictures.
CT scans are transmitted electronically to a radiologist in Ardmore for interpretation. Results are delivered within 24 hours. Emergency reads can be accomplished within 30 minutes for trauma patients in the emergency room.
Before CT scanners were invented in 1974, the types of information they provided often could have been discovered only by exploratory surgery.
The bone density scanner, the second new machine acquired by the hospital, performs a special x-ray procedure that determines the strength of bones. Bones shown as low in mineral density are weak. The test results predict the likelihood of fracture.
The medical condition describing weak bones is osteoporosis. A borderline condition is osteopenia.
Hip, wrist, and spine are particularly vulnerable to fracture in affected patients. Their numbers are legion, increasing with age. An estimated 28 million Americans have osteoporosis, according to the national foundation for this disease.
Osteoporosis affects four times more women than men. Its onset often occurs after menopause, when the female body stops producing certain protective hormones.
Other conditions, like smoking, thyroid disease, long-term steroid use, and poor diets also can result in brittle bones.
Osteoporosis can be avoided or deferred. That’s the point of the bone density scan. A baseline test is recommended for post-menopausal women with subsequent re-testing every two years, Johnston said.
Diets rich in calcium and vitamin D help avoid or defer osteoporosis. Certain medications help reverse or lessen the condition.
For the bone density test, the patient lies on an examination table and the scanner moves over the top of the body, directing x-ray energy from two different sources toward the bones being examined. The test takes 30 minutes.
Johnston said the scan focuses on the spine and left and right femur (hip bones).
She said patients may request a bone density scan by contacting the clinic at 276-2400.