Southlake’s medical imaging is now
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
“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.
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.
• 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
• 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