Citizens BMC Brings Latest Technology to Talladega
It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But, Citizens Baptist Medical Center has invested dollars -- in fact, $4 million - to make sure the picture it sends provides a clear message for diagnostic care.
The rapidly growing medical center is answering the needs of the community with increasing numbers of skilled physicians and new medical advances. Among the latest of the new tools to provide faster and more accurate diagnosis is a 64-slice VCT scanner, a Signa 1.5 MRI and a new SPECT/CT Infinia Hawkeye - one of only two such scanners in Alabama. Today the imaging department at Citizens offers technology often found only at larger, urban hospitals.
"At Citizens, we recognize that fast, accurate diagnosis is critically important to good medical care," said Larry Harris, director of the hospital's imaging services. "That kind of diagnostic care demands a skilled staff along with modern technology to provide physicians the information they need to diagnose and care for their patients."
To meet these demands requires a strong commitment - one that Citizens most recently demonstrated with the installation of a new 64-slice VCT scanner. VCT - volume computed tomography - represents one of the world's latest advancements in imaging technology.
Harris, a 30-year veteran in radiology, was recruited to lead the multi-million expansion of the hospital's imaging department. He's enthusiastic about the VCT's capabilities. "Now, we get about 2000 images in 17 seconds compared to 60 images in 45 minutes before. Three-dimensional images so detailed and precise -- well, it's hard for disease to hide with this kind of sophisticated imaging."
Extensive training by the staff prepared them to use this impressive technology for scans of the brain, kidneys, coronary arteries and full body imaging. "In just five heartbeats, we can get an image of the heart. We get 64 images in the time it took for one before.
As an example, Harris explained that the VCT's superior images help physicians determine if cardiac catheterization or an alternative course is better for a cardiology patient. "It offers significant benefits for our patients - greater clarity, reduced radiation exposure and speed."
now all-digital imaging
Radiology services at Citizens BMC are now totally digital, which are much faster than the conventional film or "x-ray" method. With the all-digital technology, physicians can view and interpret images on computer monitors throughout the hospital as well as their office or even at home. It's secure, round-the-clock access.
"We can transmit images around the world for a specialty consultation," Harris said. "Another advantage is with less time required for tests, the staff can spend more time making patients comfortable and explaining procedures."
precision mri images
Citizens' 1.5 Tesla MRI scanner - with a price tag of $1.2 million -- offers images of amazing clarity and detail to help physicians diagnose disease with confidence. Highly detailed pictures of a patient's internal structures are obtained in a painless, noninvasive way to aid physicians in evaluating a wide range of conditions, such as cancer, stroke, musculoskeletal and heart disease.
"An MRI (or magnetic resonance imaging) is a radiology technique that uses magnetism, radio waves and a computer to produce images. The MRI scanner is a short tube (45 inches in length) surrounded by a giant magnet. The patient is placed on a moveable bed that is inserted into the magnet. The magnet creates strong magnetic waves, along with radio waves to produce an image." Harris said. "The image and resolution produced by MRI is quite detailed and can detect tiny changes of structures within the body. For some procedures, contrast agents, such as gadolinium, are used to increase the accuracy of the images. There is no radiation involved with an MRI scan."
Citizens also boasts a new generation of Nuclear Medicine scanning -- one of only two in the state. The new SPECT/CT Infinia Hawkeye can change the course of treatment for many patients. Its hybrid images combine the precise anatomical detail of a CT scan with the information obtained from a SPECT (single proton emission computed tomography) study in a single procedure. What that can mean for patients is pinpoint accuracy in locating a tumor or lesion. Such precision can mean fewer tests and surgery that is quicker and less invasive.
"Digital mammography is often described as the new gold standard," said Harris. "So, we're delighted to offer our patients one of the most advanced mammography units available in Alabama."
The ergonomic design of the Senographe DS offers patients at Citizens greater comfort and faster exams. It's enhanced with computer-aided detection that serves as an "extra set of eyes" for the physician who reads the mammograms.
Digital mammography -- touted as the "single biggest advance in mammography in 30 years -- is one of the most powerful breast cancer diagnostic tools available. And, studies show that earlier detection saves lives. That's encouraging news for the more than 2,700 women in Alabama likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.
"Let me add that our mammography services are accredited by the American College of Radiologists," said Harris, "and services are provided by board certified physicians and certified radiological technologists."
When abnormalities are detected, Citizens can also perform stereotactic breast biopsy, a noninvasive, non-surgical technique. Routinely performed as an outpatient procedure, it is a key tool in identifying whether abnormalities detected in breast exams and mammograms are benign or malignant.
not just high tech
Citizens BMC remains committed to bringing new medical technology to area residents, but they haven't forgotten other important aspects of medical care - caring and compassion.
"Citizens is a hospital where patients will be met by people they know," said Harris. "We'll treat them like we would want our mother, our dad and members of our own family to be treated. We treat each patient as a person. You're a member of the family at Citizens BMC."