Generous donor funds super-fast CT scanner at NNUH

One of only three advanced CT scanners in the NHS has this week started running at the Norfolk and Norwich Univesity Hospital and it's all thanks to a generous anonymous donor.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is to have four new CT scanners to provide a cutting-edge diagnostic service for patients and the most advanced of the scanners – a Siemens Definition Flash – has been bought with the help of a £850,000 gift from an anonymous donor.

The new scanner started running this week and only two other hospitals in the UK are equipped with such state-of-the-art- machines, which are able to scan the body at previously unimaginably fast speeds. It means patients could soon undergo a CT scan to pick up cancers and signs of cardiac disease that would only normally be detected by more invasive tests.

The new machines can rival the Apollo spacecraft for gravitational pull. When scanning at full speed, the doughnut shaped structure holding the X-ray tube and detectors pulls over 40g, while the Apollo pulls at 10G on take-off – and all achieved quietly, with no vibration.

“The actual duration of the examination for the patient will be the same but the new scanners work so fast that we can build up a detailed 3D image in a single heart beat, helping us to examine the function of arteries and measure blood flow to the heart or brain,” explained consultant radiologist Dr Stuart Williams, who is also clinical director for radiology at NNUH.

“The old machines were state-of-the-art when they were first installed but they are among the hardest working in the East of England, having completed more than 140,000 scans in the last eight years.

The installation of these new scanners is part of a five-year strategy to meet the diagnostic imaging needs of the people of Norfolk. Three of the new machines will be ready by the end of April, while the fourth will be installed later in the year.

Notes for editors

• CT (computerised tomography) scanners rotate around the body, building up high-definition X-ray images through a series of “slices”.

• The new scanners rotate at a speed of 0.28seconds, providing a 128-slice / image per rotation compared to the 4-slice / image per rotation on the scanners they will replace. This means a whole chest can be scanned in less than a second. Previously scans would have taken up to 20 seconds, requiring patients to hold their breath – not easy if you have a breathing problem.

• During the CT scan the gantry (the ring-shaped structure holding the X-Ray tube and detectors) pulls over 40G when at full speed. An Apollo space rocket pulls at 10G on take-off. All of this is achieved quietly and with no vibration.

• The new technology enables more detailed information to be gathered faster and with less radiation dose to the patient.

Wednesday 16th of December 2009 05:00:18 AM