What is a 64 slice CT scanner?
In computed tomography (CT) scanning, x-rays obtain image data from different angles around the body and then are processed by a computer. The images are 3 dimensional in nature and provide good resolution. The CT is an excellent technique to make a diagnosis of disorders in many different parts of the body, however, because the heart is constantly beating, CT scan could never be used to image it in the past.
Until the past few years, the technical gold standard was 16-slice CT scan, which required the patient to hold their breath for 25- to 40-seconds in the time it took to perform the scan. Today, the 64 slice CT scanner can perform the same task in just a few seconds and the images are much better.
The speed of the 64-slice CT scanner can gather a high-resolution image of a heart, brain or both lungs in less than five seconds. A scan of the whole body is possible in about 30 seconds. The speed of the 64 slice CT scanner has also allowed for the technology to be an alternative to conventional angiography or cardiac catheterization. The procedure is less invasive and produces excellent imaging.
What is the biggest advantage of a 64 slice CT Scanner?
Today, the only way to confirm the presence of coronary artery disease is to get what is called a cardiac catheterization. This invasive procedure requires a large amount of dye, large needle in the groin, bed rest for 6-8 hours and an overnight stay in the hospital. The 64 slice CT scanner is so fast that it can image the heart and the coronary vessels in a few seconds. This latest generation scanner is able to non-invasively capture images of any organ in one second and capture images of the heart and coronaries in fewer than five heartbeats, something no other CT system can offer.
Because the 64 slice CT scanner has only been recently available, its use in the evaluation of the heart has been limited. However, there is no doubt that it will soon replace cardiac catheterization for many elective cases.
Heart catheterization is a very commonly performed test that is safe and provides very accurate information. But, it is still an invasive test, which is one reason why this technology is being studied.
What information can be provided by a CT cardiac scan?
Because of the extremely fast speed of the scanner and the latest computer technology, one can obtain images of the heart in multiple dimensions. The coronary vessels can be visualized and the presence of any blockage easily seen.
The 64 slice CT scanner provides images of the heart in between each contraction, without causing any blurring of the images.
How is the 64 slice CT heart scan done?
The best heart views are obtained with a slow heart rate. Thus, some doctors will give a medication to slow the heart just prior to the procedure. The patient lies down flat on the table and the CT scan is done. The 64 slice CT scan is so fast that the entire heart is imaged in less than 15 seconds. The patient then goes home.
When can the results be available?
If prior arrangements have been made with a radiologist, the images can be read right after the scan and be ready in 30 minutes.
Who is a candidate for a 64 slice CT scan?
- those individuals with the lowest risk of heart disease
- young patients with questionable heart disease
- young patients with congenital heart problems
- individuals with an abnormal stress test and a low risk for heart disease
- patients with atypical chest pain and low likelihood for heart disease
- individuals with disease in their carotid arteries
- individuals with a stroke
- individuals with a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary emboli)
- individuals with cancer
What are the benefits of a 64 slice CT SCAN?
- The unprecedented coverage speed of this system allows physicians to capture a high-resolution image of the heart in 5 beats, or go head to toe in less than 10 seconds - faster than any other CT scanner on the market today.
- This pain-free procedure offers exceptional image quality which can mean better physician diagnosis, faster recovery time and increased patient comfort and convenience.
- By providing a non-invasive study that can quickly distinguish blocked from normal coronary arteries, it can determine who is and is not at high risk of having a heart attack. This can reduce the time a patient must spend in the emergency department, or eliminate the need for hospitalization, if the exam is normal.
- Unlike conventional angiogram, the needle is placed in the hand and not in the groin.
- Unlike cardiac catheterization, this is an outpatient procedure.
- The complications of the procedure itself are much less than that of a cardiac catheterization.
- For those who have back or neck pain, this technique is much easier than a cardiac catheterization as the procedure takes a few seconds.
What are limitations of a 64 slice CT SCANNER?
Although the scanner table is built to support up to 450 pounds, it can be difficult to accommodate patients who are morbidly obese.
The CT scanner is not the best at identifying calcium precipitates around the blood vessels and may fail to detect the presence of a plaque.
In addition, if an individual has a coronary stent placed, the CT scan is unable to detect the presence of any narrowing inside the stent.
The presence of mechanical heart valves, pacemaker leads and any other foreign body around the heart can interfere with the quality of the image.
Each scanner costs between $1.5 million to $2 million.
It does have radiation exposure and may not be suitable for pregnant females.
By ScanDirectory.com Staff
Updated: June 21, 2008