ONE OF the wonders of high-end joint research in cardiology, radiology and medical electronics, the new generation '320 slice computed tomography scanner', that can scan the entire heart in just half-a-second in one rotation, is all set to hit the National capital, New Delhi, after its launch in Chennai. This state-of-the-art imaging equipment "has the ability to cover the whole heart in one contraction phase," contrary to the earlier generation CT scans where three or four images of a patient's heart in different phases had to be taken and collated, Dr.
Robert Kwok, Chief Consultant Radiologist, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore, has said. Speaking to 'Hindustan Times' here today after the Tamil Nadu Health Minister, Mr.
M.R.K.Pannerselvam, launched the latest generation CT scan at the private Apollo Hospitals here, Dr. Robert said the new machine facilitates the scan of all the blood vessels in the heart under just one second for 80 per cent of all heart patients.
For some of the heart patients whose heartbeat is faster, the longest time taken for a scan is 3 seconds, Dr. Robert said.
The older generation '64 slice CT scan' would take about 7 to 10 seconds to image the heart. But the latest one would be particularly easier on old people "who do not have to hold their breath longer," he said.
"Because of the speed of the scan, the latest scanner gives more consistent and better quality images that are easier for diagnostics and has the ability to cover the whole heart in just one rotation," Dr. Robert said.
This also reduces by 50 per cent the patients' exposure to radiation, he said, adding, the computer-rendered image of the heart are less blurred by motion or by the table movements in the latest machine. "Four years ago, we thought the technology for CT scans had hit a plateau, but this one is the beginning of a new generation of CT scanners which will see lot more improvements; this can also scan brain vessels far more sharply," Dr.
Robert said. This latest scanner has cost Dr.
P.C. Reddy heading Apollo Group, Rs.19.50 Crores.
Mr. Kurakake, Chief Marketing Specialist of Toshiba Medical Systems, Tokyo , Japan , which has built this latest scanner, said that it was fast enough to image the entire heart in 0.35 seconds of one rotation, while the second fastest CT scanner in the world today took 4 seconds.
"Ours is thus ten times faster; while the earlier generation 64-slice system can show a blockage in the heart, the latest one can show blockage and how the whole organ and surrounding blow flow are functioning," he said. Terming it the "greatest advancement in CT technology to date," Mr.
Kurakake said it has been the result of ten long years of R and D, initially started as a National project in Japan . Mr.
Kurakake said that 15 pre-production models or prototypes of this were first on display at the World Radiology Conference in Chicago in the US in Nov 2007. The R and D was a joint effort by major medical Institutes including the John Hopkins University Hospital, US, Harvard Medical School , Bregam and Women's Hospital affiliated to the Harvard Medical School and Fujita Health University in Japan , Mr.
Kurakake said. Toshiba Medical Systems has a long-term relationship with the latter, he added.
The first clinical tests of this new machine, commercial models of which started coming out from Sep 2008, was done at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore . So far, 50 systems of this latest CT scan have been installed in leading hospitals in different parts of the globe and the one set up in Apollo here is the first in India .