The CT scanner has been referred to as one of the most important advances in radiology since the x-ray. The introduction of CT scanners has helped cut down the need for invasive procedures. Major benefits of the spiral CT include its ability to create 3-D images of areas inside the body; its ability to better detect small abnormalities; and its rapid scan time, which means less time for patients to lie still.
Which Slice Would You Like?
The decision to purchase a multi-slice CT involves sensible considerations such as equipment costs, demographics, and whether it fits in with the overall budget. You will need to decide on the number of slices and workflow features you need. Equipment sellers (such as Amber Diagnostics) should be able to review the capabilities of different machines, and help make suggestions based on your needs.
Single slice CT scanners are capable of acquiring one image per gantry rotation. A scanner with more slices allows faster acquisition; for instance, a multi-slice would make it easier to examine unruly children or weak elderly patients that can’t lie still for too long. While multi-slice CT scanners have become the industry norm, the single slice machines are still a useful component, and should continue to be around for quite some time.
The ideal slice count depends on the types of services or exams you tend to provide, which is also based on the demographics of your target patients.
Multi-slice comes in 4, 6, 8, 16, 32, 40, and 64 slice configurations. Additional slices enhance diagnostic capabilities and broaden the range of applications, especially if the facility will be performing cardiac studies.
2, 4, 6 or 8-slice CT Scanners are all whole-body scanners capable of scan routine 0.8 to 0.5-second full 360-degree rotation scans, while acquiring multiple slices in a single rotation. These models are perfect for mid-to-high volume locations and will provide fast scanning and excellent image quality.
16-slice CT Scanner. 16-slice systems can perform a wide variety of sophisticated and complex imaging procedures. It provides full organ coverage with high resolution imaging, but is not considered adequate for detailed cardiac analysis such as coronary vessel analysis.
64-slice CT Scanner. A 64-slice scanner is said to have significantly improved CT Angiography (CTA), and is particularly recommended for cardiac studies. The speed and sensitivity of these scanners allow physicians to see how well the heart is contracting, to view the walls of arteries for plaque formation, and to observe the tiniest of vessels and arterial branches. They can produce exceptionally sharp images of the finest details, and significantly reduce scan time.
Additional Features to Consider
Now remember, when considering which scanner to purchase, not only is it important to consider the number of data slices, but also to take into account the length of coverage in one rotation. The rotation time of the tube and the detectors surrounding the patient (gantry rotation time) has a direct effect on overall scan time.
Although most exams do not require the smallest slice width, CT scanning systems with thinner (and more) slices in one rotation, can handle the more complex exams and diverse patient populations. Scanners are able to achieve rotation times of less than 0.3 seconds, but these fast rotations are best reserved for specialist studies such as cardiac scanning (to minimize image artifacts caused by heart motion). 0.5 second rotations are usually more adequate for general body scanning, while 1 second rotation times are ample for head scanning.
CT Scanners may also differ based on the speed of image reconstruction. Acquiring more slices is not beneficial if patient throughput is delayed by slow image reconstruction. But buying a high specification computer is only worth it if it will be well-utilized.
Finally, think about how images will be manipulated, interpreted and managed. Hospitals may choose to have advanced 3D CT computer applications for manipulating and/or reading. Additionally, radiologists should decide on a method of storage for large data sets. Regardless of the interpreting method, a hospital may continue with hard copy archiving, implement an intermediate electronic data storage solution, or may move to the full PACS electronic workflow (which would be ideal for those with a sufficient budget).
If you have questions about our inventory of CT Scanners, or need help choosing the right slice for your facility, give me a call anytime!