In the rich farming country of France’s Centre region, the machine that most often makes the front page of Le Berry Républican is a tractor, so the recent arrival of a state-of-the-art CT scanner at the Vierzon Hospital earned special attention. With the scandalous shortage of medical imaging scanners in France, the announcement that a regional medical centre received funding for a CT with advanced functionality could even be considered a headline event nationwide. (See European Hospital MRI Alert! 11/12/2009).
‘We’ve been working for seven years with a 6-slice CT, so moving up to 64 rows is a quantum leap for us,’ said Adib Sayegh MD, the head of imaging services at the Centre Hospitalier Vierzon, who has been working for four months with the new Hitachi Scenaria 64. ‘We’re acquiring up to 1,000 slices for some exams now with sharper images and finer resolution and examinations are faster, between five seconds and 15 seconds, which is great for patients.’ ‘We now see things more clearly, sometimes in three dimensions,’ he added, highlighting a capability for vascular reconstruction for carotid artery exams. The suite of functionalities from Hitachi also includes advanced software for examining plaque structures and stenosis. ‘The new CT has what it takes to do advanced heart scans, but we currently do not perform coronary exams as there is not a cardiologist practicing at our hospital,’ Dr Sayegh pointed out. ‘We do everything else, but not heart exams.’ The capability to perform virtual colonoscopies, on the other hand found immediate application at the centre. ‘This is truly excellent, the ability to fly-through the colon searching for polyps,’ he said. ‘We can also compare two sets of exams to see if there has been a change to a tumour or a great number of polyps. There are a lot of possibilities because this is completely new.’
The Scenaria 64 combines several functions to reduce radiation exposure significantly, such as iterative image reconstruction, Intelli EC automatic exposure control and Intelli IP interactive processing. Yet Dr Sayegh said the impact of these capabilities remains an unknown that will be the subject of a study by the imaging group. ‘It is simply too soon to tell,’ he said, ‘and all exams are all programmed to deliver the lowest dose possible. It is a priority for us, and we systematically record the dose levels.’ An all-inclusive approach by Hitachi led to the choice of the Scenaria 64, he explained. Where most offers proposed a basic scanner with a menu of upgrades for different features and functions, Hitachi from the beginning uniquely offered a single package that ‘included everything from the guarantee, pre-installation training, dose reduction, advanced examinations, really more than we had called for in the specification.’ Co-operation between Hitachi and Tera Recon regarding the post-processing server and workstations is a real plus. ‘This was very attractive for us with the ease of use, the quality of image display and capabilities that are well-known worldwide,’ said Dr Sayegh.
The new scanner at Vierzon has also proved very attractive for other French radiologists. ‘We’ve become a reference centre and receive visits of physicians from Paris, the South of France, from all over really, who want to see the potentials,’ he confirmed. ‘This has given us the chance to get to know other radiologists,’ he added, ‘to make contacts that expand our references for when there are problems or questions.’