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Diagnostic imaging

St. Paul’s acquires new generation CT scanner

VANCOUVER – A powerful new Computed Tomography (CT) scanner at the Providence Heart + Lung Institute, at St. Paul’s Hospital, is bringing early diagnosis of cardiac disease to a whole new level. St. Paul’s Hospital is the first centre in Western Canada to scan patients with GE Healthcare’s high-definition CT scanner.

The $2.2 million scanner delivers unprecedented high-quality diagnostic images while using significantly less radiation than previous technology. Thanks to St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation’s commitment to raise funds for this equipment, doctors at St. Paul’s Hospital now have access to technology that enables them to identify disease at an earlier stage and intervene sooner.

“We can now look at the coronary arteries using this non-invasive technology and make faster, more accurate diagnoses of heart disease,” says Dr. Brett Heilbron, a cardiologist with the Providence Heart + Lung Institute at St. Paul’s Hospital. “This technology also provides a valuable alternative to the traditional angiogram for some patients, because it is less invasive, safer and less expensive.”

“This new technology and its patient-care benefits greatly enhance our capabilities as a provincial resource and centre of excellence in cardio-pulmonary and radiology research, teaching and care,” says Dianne Doyle, president & CEO, Providence Health Care. “British Columbians can continue to expect the highest levels of care for which St. Paul’s is internationally renowned.”

The new scanner – GE Healthcare’s Discovery CT750 HD – features the first new detector material in 20 years, providing quality and detailed images a hundred times faster than previous technology. This is a radical change for the industry where no longer do higher-quality images come with higher radiation dose. With up to half the radiation for body scans, and up to 83 percent less radiation for cardiac scans, the technology dramatically reduces exposure for patients.

Dr. Heilbron and Dr. Jonathon Leipsic, a radiologist at St. Paul’s Hospital, co-direct the Heart + Lung Institute’s Advanced Cardiac Imaging Program. The program is a unique collaboration between radiology and cardiology that was established with the support of the Healthy Heart Society of British Columbia. With specialized training in cardiac imaging, Drs. Leipsic and Heilbron are experts in a relatively new field.

Their leadership and expertise, combined with the hospital’s longstanding reputation for cardiac excellence and research, made St. Paul’s Hospital an ideal choice as a major research site for the new scanner. This designation means that the Heart + Lung Institute at St. Paul’s Hospital is involved in international research focusing on areas such as the potential role of CT imaging in measuring the narrowing of the coronary arteries, including for patients with coronary stents.

“This is a very exciting step forward for the Providence Heart + Lung Institute,” says Dr. Leipsic. “Being selected as a research site affords us the opportunity for international multi-centered research collaborations and places St. Paul’s Hospital at the forefront of noninvasive coronary imaging - all the while maintaining and enhancing our commitment to low radiation dose imaging strategies.”

The new scanner will not only benefit cardiac patients, but will also be used to help diagnose diseases throughout the body, including early stroke detection. With the ability to differentiate between different types of soft tissue, the scanner allows more accurate diagnoses of lesions, making it useful in diagnosing diseases of the lung, liver, kidney and other organs.

Providence Health Care (PHC) is one of Canada’s largest faith-based healthcare organizations, and operates 14 healthcare facilities in Greater Vancouver. Guided by the principle “How you want to be treated”, PHC’s 1,000 physicians and 6,000 staff deliver compassionate care to patients and residents in British Columbia. As a renowned academic health science leader, PHC operates one of two teaching hospitals in the province, performs cutting-edge research in more than 30 clinical specialties, and focuses its services on six “populations of emphasis”: cardio-pulmonary risks and illnesses, HIV/AIDS, mental health, renal risks and illness, specialized needs in aging and urban health. For more information, please visit

The Providence Heart + Lung Institute at St. Paul’s Hospital merges and integrates all of Providence’s heart and lung research, education and care programs, making it the only one of its kind in Canada. The Institute is home of the provincial heart centre, which is internationally renowned for cardiac excellence and pioneering new advances in cardiac care.