box10.gif (1299 bytes)








Southlake’s medical imaging is now 100% digital

NEWMARKET, Ont. – Southlake Regional Health Centre recently achieved a significant milestone by moving to 100 percent digital imaging technology and storage, making Southlake the first hospital in the Central LHIN to offer complete digital services within its Diagnostic Imaging department.

For patients, this means more accurate and timely diagnosis, faster treatments, and reduced wait-times.

“Digital imaging allows our health care providers to use advanced tools and functionalities not previously available with film,” said Dr. Yin- Hui Siow, Chief of Radiology at Southlake. “Having these advanced technologies available to aid our physicians can mean a more timely diagnosis, which can ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

All areas in the Diagnostic Imaging department at Southlake now offer 100 percent digital imaging technology, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), mammography, X-ray, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, and bone mineral density.

This achievement, made possible through the implementation of a Picture Archive Communications System (PACS), enables digital images to be captured, stored, and shared digitally.

In addition, specialized software has been installed in both the CT and MRI suites that enable Southlake’s healthcare team to provide specialized cardiac and cancer tests that are only offered at a select number of Canadian hospitals.

Digital imaging and storage can make an important difference in diagnosing many illnesses and diseases. Able to provide clearer images, accessible from multiple viewing sites, from which physicians can more effectively make a diagnosis, this new technology can generate test results in some areas by up to 30 percent faster.

According to Dr. Louis Balogh, Vice-President, Regional Cardiac and Cancer Programs, this modern technological advance is significant for the hospital’s ability to deliver safer critical diagnostic services to its patients.

“Having this technology available at Southlake will allow us to more quickly diagnose and initiate treatment plans for patients who are battling chronic life threatening conditions such as cancer and heart disease,” says Dr. Balogh.

Digital storage through PACS allows healthcare providers to instantly access digital images and reports 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Images can be viewed in multiple locations simultaneously and easily shared, on a secure network, to allow for more effective consultations between physicians. This can result in more timely review and discussion of patient needs and earlier access to definitive treatment or intervention.

In addition to PACS, Southlake has implemented a sophisticated voice recognition system, which improves report turnaround time. This technology is instrumental in reducing wait times and the number of repeat exams required. Radiologists can now provide same day final reports for over 80 percent of all exams completed throughout the day.

More details:

Southlake’s Diagnostic Imaging department is the first Toronto East Network (TEN) project partner to move to 100 per cent digital.

The Toronto East Network project is sponsored by the participating Chief Executive Officers and Canada Health Infoway. The purpose of the project is to create and manage a centralized diagnostic imaging system for 23 hospitals in Ontario.

Digital Mammography

• One of Canada’s few, fully digital mammography centres.
• Southlake has the only fully digital centre in the Central LHIN.
• Provides reduced exam time by approximately half the time of a traditional mammogram.
• Provides a 30% increase in efficiency per technologist per day.
• Images can be immediately manipulated to correct under or over exposure, brightness, and contrast which is much faster and more accurate than before.
• Detects 28% more cancers for women with dense breasts.
• The wait time for urgent mammograms is approximately 48 hours and for non-urgent exams, it is approx. 2-4 weeks.
• We anticipate that we will be able to double capacity to 20,000 annual mammograms by 2010.


• In September 2007, ultrasound services opened in a second site in the Medical Arts Building.
• Now offers a wide range of muskuloskeletal studies and a full range of vascular studies that we were unable to perform in the past.

Magnetic Resonance (MRI)

• The MRI department will perform over 7,000 exams this year compared to last year.
• The addition of PACS has allowed for images to be stored and transported via DVD rather than numerous films.
• Southlake provides a General Anaesthetic Program for children under the age of six. This avoids travel to the Hospital for Sick Children, in downtown Toronto, as well as a decreased wait for appointments.
• The new and improved applications for vascular imaging have allowed for patients to undergo an MRI angiogram rather than a conventional angiogram, as it is faster and less invasive.
• With the opening of the new breast diagnostic unit, MRI is a valuable tool, often used in breast imaging as a problem-solving tool. Advances in imaging and the development of biopsy capabilities will open the door for great possibilities in the future.

Computer Tomography (CT)

• Southlake installed its second 64-slice volume CT scanner in April 2007.
• The latest technology enables new clinical procedures such as multi-phase abdominal and CT Angiography exams to become clinically routine. The new scanner can scan a total body in less than 10 seconds.
• One of the newest applications scans coronary arteries and vessels. This application produces the most detailed images available of heart arteries without surgery.
• Currently, 50% of patient exams are cancer related.
• Both scanners have unique productivity features and have helped reduce exam time, streamline workflow and have reduced wait times. The current wait time to receive a scan range from one to five weeks.
• The CT department performed over 12,000 exams last year and plan to increase the workload to close to 18,000 exams this year.
• The addition of PACS has allowed for images to be stored and transported via CD/DVD rather than numerous films.
• In 2008, services will be expanded with the purchase of CT colonography software, which will provide transparent 3-D reconstruction images of the colon and allows for a non-invasive and quick diagnosis of polyps and tumours.
• Each scanner cost $1.8 million along with a yearly maintenance cost of approx. $150,000. The scanner provides 24/7 coverage for emergency CT scans. The Southlake Foundation supported a major project to renovate and expand the CT suite, including the purchase of the second CT scanner, which has increased the capacity for more patients to be diagnosed.