The state-of-the-art equipment in Saint Francis Medical Center’s Radiology Department has enabled doctors to obtain computed tomography (CT) scans of patients without exposing them to high doses of radiation.
The Siemens Flash CT Scanner is a low-dose scanner that provides detailed images for doctors in a fraction of the time it takes for other scanners to obtain the same images. Saint Francis is the only medical center between St. Louis and Memphis to be using the Flash CT Scanner.
Saint Francis acquired the scanner so it could perform a minimally invasive procedure called a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), in which the doctor replaces a heart valve through very small incisions that leave the chest bone in place.
“We use TAVR for patients who are intermediate or high risk for open-heart surgery,” says Steven J. Joggerst, MD, interventional cardiologist, Saint Francis Medical Partner. “Because of their condition, these patients often cannot lie flat or hold their breath, which is what other CT scanners require patients to do. Those scanners also require the patients to take medications to slow their heart rate, which could potentially be dangerous for people who have damaged heart valves. The Flash Scanner is much easier for these patients to tolerate.”
The Flash Scanner also can be used for other purposes, such as pediatric patients. Children are limited in the amount of radiation they can tolerate in an imaging scan. The Flash emits such low doses of radiation, children who need scans can undergo them at Saint Francis, rather than traveling far away.
Medicare now pays for one screening CT scan per year for people who are at high risk for lung cancer, such as heavy smokers. This scan must be performed on a machine with low doses of radiation such as the Flash Scanner.
“The Flash CT Scanner has become a big asset for Saint Francis,” says Joggerst. “Not only can we give people with aortic stenosis a better quality of life through a noninvasive procedure, but we also can offer better imaging for these other patient populations.”