Iowa Methodist's new Siemens SOMATOM Definition Flash CT can generate an image of a heart in the time it takes to blink your eyes. In less than one second, our Flash CT produces high-definition images of the brain, bones and some of the tiniest blood vessels. But as fast as the Flash CT is, it offers an even more important benefit to patients - dose reduction.
CT is a valuable and important diagnostic imaging tool in helping doctors diagnose a variety of conditions and diseases. The effectiveness of CT has led to an increase in the number of scans being performed, which means more exposure to radiation. The number of CT scans has increased significantly over the last 30 years, from approximately 3 million exams performed in 1980 to 68 million exams performed in 2006. Since CT systems use ionizing radiation to generate a quality image, that means more exposure to radiation.
The number of CT exams for children also has increased. There are approximately 7 million pediatric CT studies performed every year, and that number is increasing approximately 10 percent each year. There are special concerns when it comes to pediatric imaging, since a child's organs are sensitive to radiation dose and they may receive more imaging exams throughout their lifetime.
"At Iowa Methodist, we follow specific procedures to reduce dose during CT exams to make exams as safe as possible for our patients," said Todd Kranpitz, Executive Director of Radiology at Iowa Health - Des Moines. "We follow the "as low as reasonably achievable" (ALARA) radiation dose policy."
Iowa Health - Des Moines has also pledged to the Image Gently™ campaign. An initiative by the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, Image Gently's goal is to increase awareness of the opportunities to lower radiation dose in the imaging of children.
"We chose the new Flash CT because it was designed to make CT exams healthier for patients, and helps reduce radiation exposure," said Kranpitz. "The Flash CT requires a reduced radiation dose that earlier CT systems required. It also has special features protect organs and areas on the body that are more sensitive to radiation."
While the Flash's dose reduction features bring more peace of mind to patients, it actually offers benefits to all pediatric, geriatric and bariatric patients. It intelligently adapts to most sizes, medical needs and dosage. With the Flash's fastest speed, patients no longer have to hold their breath during an exam, and patients spend less time in the tube. The Flash can perform a whole-body exam on a 6-foot-6 person in less than 4.7 seconds. The decreased scan time often eliminates the need for sedation, and scans can be performed without using beta blockers.