X-rays go digital at Barton Hospital | TahoeDailyTribune.com

X-rays go digital at Barton Hospital

Gregory Crofton
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Paul Knight, a radiologist at Barton Memorial Hospital, reads a digital X-ray on computer monitors installed last month. A pacemaker can be seen in the chest X-ray on the left.

You won’t find too many doctors holding pieces of film up to a light at Barton Memorial Hospital.

The hospital recently spent $2.5 million on technology that allows X-rays throughout the hospital to be processed digitally in about 15 seconds. Film took more than four minutes to develop.

The technology upgrade has allowed doctors to make faster and more accurate diagnoses. The digital X-rays have been especially effective for patients in the emergency room and intensive care unit.

“It’s great. It’s like night and day,” said Paul Knight, a staff radiologist. “This improves accuracy quite a bit and makes the job so much easier and you can be so much more productive.”

The equipment allows a radiologist to view X-rays three-dimensionally on computer monitors and adjust the contrast of the image so potential health problems are easier to detect.

“You can see small lesions,” said Virginia Garrison, part-time radiologist who works at Barton. “The first day I used it I saw two tiny stomach polyps I might have missed.”

Tim Gilliam, director of medical imaging, said the community is fortunate that a hospital the size of Barton, which has 100 beds, was willing to invest in the technology. His last job was at a hospital in Idaho that has 500 beds and it purchased a similar system only a couple of years ago.

“For a hospital this size to have this technology is very unique,” Gilliam said. “This isn’t something the hospital is going to make money on. They were investing in the patients and the community.”

Knight has relied on the digital X-ray technology since Oct. 20. Because it allows radiologists to better explore images and see them in more detail, it can reduce the number of medical tests required for a patient.

“If I see something in the bone structure, I can adjust the contrast and evaluate the finding instead of having to order additional X-rays,” Knight said.

In the last year, Barton purchased two other top-of-the-line imaging machines. The Phillips MD-4 takes digital images of arteries and vessels of the heart and helps diagnose problems that cause pain.

The Phillips ADAC FORTE nuclear medicine camera is able to snap images of two sides of a human body at once. The images are good for detecting things such as bone lesions.

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com

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