Worried About a Heart Attack? Find out if You Should Be.
Published on August 7, 2004.


SJRA Installs World’s Most Advanced Computed Tomography Technology.

A new breakthrough in computed tomography (CT) technology is enabling the cardiac imaging specialists at South Jersey Radiology Associates (SJRA) to make more timely and accurate diagnosis because of clearer images of the beating heart.

SJRA, which has eight offices in Southern New Jersey, is the first in the Philadelphia region to provide this state-of-the-art technology and joins such facilities as the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Massachusetts General Hospital in offering this advanced CT scanner that does not require patients to take medications to slow the heart rate.

The Definition’s dual source system from Siemens uses two X-ray tubes to produce images with twice the resolution at twice the speed of the most advanced 64-slice CT equipment. This new technology exposes patients to only half of the radiation of other computed tomography equipment currently in use.

The dual source capabilities enable physicians at SJRA to scan patients with elevated or irregular heart rates without having to first administer beta-blocker medication to reduce the heart rate before the exam. With all other CT scanners, patients must take beta blockers to slow the heart before it can be seen clearly, since the motion of the beating heart can blur images.

For patients this means reduced patient preparation time. With the dual source system, the scan takes mere seconds. SJRA physicians say that if the study is normal, patients can be assured that the arteries in their heart also are normal.

“The Definition enables SJRA to bring the world’s most advanced CT technology to our patients,” said David Roberts, M.D., director of cardiovascular imaging team at SJRA. “The dual source technology provides anatomical detail not previously available even through invasive cardiac catheterization.”

Dr. Roberts also emphasized that because the Definition uses two X-ray sources and offers twice the imaging power, it subjects patients to as much as 50 percent less radiation exposure than the most advanced 64 slice CT systems. This is because the speed of the system allows physicians at SJRA to obtain the images in half the time, and physicians use special software that automatically reduces radiation to the lowest dose possible to the patient.

The new technology now makes advanced cardiac CT exams accessible to patients who have conditions that previously precluded them from having the study, such as those who cannot tolerate beta blockers, patients with asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or other conditions that affect breathing.

For many patients, the Definition can also help eliminate the need for invasive diagnostic procedures, such as cardiac catheterization, in which a flexible tube is threaded through a blood vessel in the groin or arm to the heart. If a Definition study is normal there is no need for catheterization, which can produce complications. If the study is abnormal, the narrowing can be fixed with just a single diagnostic catheterization.

Even more impressive, is that the Definition can see what cannot be seen during a standard invasive cardiac catheterization. Cardiologists know that heart attacks are usually caused by hemorrhage of soft plaque, which may not significantly narrow the coronary arteries. “For the first time we can provide referring physicians with a detailed look at this dangerous plaque so that medications necessary to avoid a heat attack can be prescribed. Physicians will be able to further characterize and distinguish plaque, an early indicator of heart disease and tumors in diagnostic oncology treatments,” according to Dr. Roberts.

Physicians at SJRA are able to use the Definition to help make faster and more confident diagnosis, particularly in examining patients with acute chest pain, abdominal pain, and suspicion of stroke. Doctors can now review results before the patient has left the table, allowing them to provide immediate feedback and quickly determine treatment options. The highest image quality can even be obtained when examining patients who are obese, short of breath, or who have elevated heart rates, Dr. Roberts explains.

Click here for information on Cardiac Imaging.

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