In a Heartbeat? New Low-Radiation, High-Speed CT Lets U Radiologists Diagnose Coronary Artery Disease in Minutes

In a Heartbeat? New Low-Radiation, High-Speed CT Lets U Radiologists Diagnose Coronary Artery Disease in Minutes

Apr 5, 2005 6:00 PM

Radiologists at University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics now can diagnose coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular problems with unprecedented clarity and speed by means of a CT scanner designed specifically to take images of the heart.

The $1.8 million SOMATOM Sensation Cardiac 64 takes images more than four times as fast, and with far greater resolution, than other CT (computed tomography) scanners, allowing radiologists to get detailed pictures of the human heart--even as it beats. Along with speed and resolution, the scanner constantly recalibrates the radiation so patients are exposed to the smallest dose possible.

"It basically images the heart as though it were standing still," said E.A. "Steve" Stevens, M.D., professor and chair of radiology at the U School of Medicine. "These are the best CT images of the heart available today."

The new scanner takes 64 images, or slices, while rotating around the body in one-third of a second. Each slice covers approximately an inch, meaning U radiologists can scan the entire heart in 10 seconds. A computer program then integrates the images to produce a clear, three-dimensional picture of the heart and arteries.

It takes about 10 minutes for the radiologist to diagnose whether the patient has coronary artery disease--a hardening and narrowing of arteries that constricts the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart and can lead to heart attack, arrhythmia, and heart failure. Evaluating plaque buildup, stents used to help blood flow into the heart, and other problems also can be completed in minutes.

Siemens AG Medical Solutions makes the scanner.

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