Barton unveils 3-D scanner that cuts down result time |

Barton unveils 3-D scanner that cuts down result time

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune/ Patti Clothier, CT Technologist, seated, and Mike Cullen, chief technician, ready the CT Scanner for a patient at Barton Memorial Hospital.

When Susan Gonzalez fell down a staircase recently, she knew something was wrong with her ankle.

It didn’t help that she stands on her feet at work at Embassy Vacation Resort.

“The doctor said I pulled tendons. We need to know if it’s broken,” she said Wednesday at the Barton Memorial Hospital medical imaging department where she underwent a CT scan with its new state-of-the-art equipment.

Barton got the $1 million Philips machine in May, and since then, chief technologist Michael Cullen said it’s worked wonders in providing three-dimensional views of internal organs and joints. It also does the job in a quarter of the time of the old equipment.

“It’s a big advancement. On a busy day, we could have four ER head (scans) back to ER in 15 minutes,” he said.

Beforehand, the stack of orders would take at least an hour. And emergency room cases would often bump scheduled, outpatient appointments.

The medical imaging unit will get an average of 10 patients in most seasons and double that number in winter during the skiing and snowboarding seasons when knees, shoulders, femurs and wrists become vulnerable.

Dr. Terry Orr, who’s optimistic about the equipment, plans to send over a patient with a tibia fracture in the knee.

“What it can do for us is give us high resolution images and quick scanning time. In four to eight seconds, we can do a complete scan. That’s pretty amazing. This is the latest, top-of-the-line equipment. To have it in a small, community hospital is a big plus,” Orr said.

In addition to the orthopedic joints, radiology expects to see more oncology patients. The equipment will now also help the department distinguish between chest pains signaling either an anxiety attack or a cardiac event.

The hospital once sent many to Washoe Medical Center for the more advanced procedures.

Another doctor with a different discipline weighed in on the machine.

“It has a great potential as far as virtual colonoscopies,” Dr. Daniel Norman said of his specialty. However, the machine doesn’t quite serve as a replacement to the procedure.

“It has a ways to go to be ready for prime time,” he said.

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