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Two 64-slice CT scanners acquired by Royal Jubilee

VICTORIA, B.C. – The installation of two state-of-the-art 64-slice CT (computed tomography) scanners at Royal Jubilee Hospital will improve diagnosis and treatment of a variety of health conditions. The machines are also expected to put Vancouver Island Health Authority at the forefront of medical imaging in British Columbia.

“The B.C. government is committed to improving patients’ access to diagnostics and treatment, to ensure that British Columbians receive high-quality care close to where they live,” said Health Minister George Abbott (pictured above, at right). “These CT scanners are the second and third 64-slice scanners to be installed in Greater Victoria in the past year, and will significantly improve access to this important new technology.”

A CT scanner is an X-ray machine that produces pictures of a cross section of the tiniest anatomical details of the body. The first 64-slice scanner in BC was installed at Victoria General Hospital in January 2005, and has quickly become an invaluable diagnostic tool for a variety of health conditions. The two new scanners at Royal Jubilee have added cardiac imaging features and software not available on the Victoria General scanner.

“These state-of-the-art scanners produce sharp, clear, three-dimensional images of the heart between beats, creating an unprecedented view of blood vessels, brain tissue and other organs,” said Dr. John Mathieson, chief, medical imaging, Vancouver Island Health Authority (pictured above, at left.) “The scanners can define tumor dimension prior to surgery and help manage trauma – and they do all this in a few seconds – faster and more accurately than any previous imaging technology. We have never been able to get an image this clear of the heart before.”

Over the last 30 years, computed tomography has changed the way medicine is practiced by replacing the need for exploratory surgeries with more precise, non-invasive CT images. The64-slice technology allows ‘slices’ of the body to be viewed in any plane at full resolution, so that organs can be rotated into an infinite number of viewing positions.

The new technology improves diagnosis and treatment options for cardiac and stroke care through the ability to perform virtual angiographies. The new RJH scanners have the added ability to perform angiographies of the heart and of coronary arteries.

“CT angiographies may be faster, cheaper and less invasive than the traditional catheter angiographies and are expected to be helpful to some patients suspected of having heart disease,” noted Dr. Mathieson. “We hope to be able to find patients needing cardiac catheterization at an earlier stage, and in some cases, avoid the need for catheterization.”

As 64-slice scanners are also more efficient than older scanners, VIHA expects more patients will undergo these diagnostics on a daily basis, which will help reduce wait lists and improve access to diagnostics and care. The two scanners including installation, cost approximately $2 million each, with funding coming from VIHA, the provincial government, and the Greater Victoria Hospitals Foundation.

“With the help of our generous community, GVHF will be committing $735,000 towards the purchase of this amazing new CT scanner,” said Leslee Farrell, board chair, Greater Victoria Hospitals Foundation. This is another great example of our community recognizing the importance of their donations in keeping our hospitals state of the art.”

Four and 16-slice CT scanners are still used in VIHA and provide a valuable service. Over the next decade VIHA expects to upgrade to more 64-slice machines. The next location will likely be Nanaimo, which now has a 16-slice CT scanner.