Dr. Michael Poon of Stony Brook University Medical Center views...

Dr. Michael Poon of Stony Brook University Medical Center views the chest and heart scan of patient Marie DeGenova using the new CT scanner. (April 22, 2010) Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

Marie DeGenova told her daughter Barbara when she finished getting a CT scan at Stony Brook University Medical Center: "I'm not doing that again."

But the new state-of-art machine, the first of its type in downstate New York, probably saved her life.

It looks like any other CT scanner: a narrow table inside a big metal doughnut. But Stony Brook's new $2.5 million scanner promises to change how diagnoses are made in the emergency room because it is faster than standard machines and gives a more detailed picture.

DeGenova, 88, of Stony Brook, came to the emergency department last Tuesday - days after the new scanner was installed.

She had a pain in her chest and shortness of breath. Blood tests showed she was not having a heart attack but might have a potentially fatal blood clot to the lung. A doctor thought she might also have a tear in the wall of her aorta, also potentially fatal.

Her heart rate was too high to make a full image of her heart on the standard CT scanner, said Dr. Michael Poon, director of Stony Brook's advanced cardiac imaging program.

With a CT scanner - the CT is for "computed tomography" - a fan-shaped beam of X-rays is created as the doughnut spins the X-ray tube around the patient, taking images at different angles. In each of these images the body is seen as an X-ray "slice" of the body. The more "slices," the more complete the picture. The new Stony Brook scanner is a 320-slice machine, while a standard scanner provides 64.

The scanner, made by Toshiba America Medical Systems Inc., also can scan an entire organ in one revolution. A 64-slice scanner takes more revolutions. DeGenova's scan took just half a second.

Fine detail is also possible: The scanner can show coronary blockages as small as 1 millimeter, Poon said. Because it has to revolve around only once, it also exposes patients to at least 50 percent less radiation, he said.

Poon said the machine is useful for everyone from accident victims to squirming children. But it will be especially helpful in imaging the heart in an emergency, when speed is critical.

DeGenova's scan showed that she in fact was having a heart attack. She was rushed off to get the proper treatment, a cardiac catherization.

The new CT "changed the whole course of surgery" for DeGenova, said Dr. Allen Jerimias, director of the cardiac intensive care unit.

Two days later, DeGenova was all smiles: "I'm feeling good today."

 

 

The "320-slice" CT scanner

 

SPEED: Completes an entire picture in anywhere from .175 to 0.35 of a second.

SPACE: Can scan a patient weighing up to 650 pounds.

RADIATION: Uses half the radiation of a conventional 64-slice CT scanner.

WEIGHT: About 4,400 pounds.

DETAIL: Can measure down to 0.35 millimeter in resolution, the size of a very small coronary vessel.

COST: $2.5 million.

SOURCES: DR. MICHAEL POON, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER; JOHNS HOPKINS HOSPITAL

Newsday Live and Long Island LitFest present a conversation with the former senior advisor to President Clinton and co-anchor of “Good Morning America,” George Stephanopoulos, about his new book, “The Situation Room, The Inside Story of Presidents in Crisis.” Host: NewsdayTV Anchor Jasmine Anderson

Newsday Live: A Chat with George Stephanopoulos Newsday Live and Long Island LitFest present a conversation with the former senior advisor to President Clinton and co-anchor of "Good Morning America."

Newsday Live and Long Island LitFest present a conversation with the former senior advisor to President Clinton and co-anchor of “Good Morning America,” George Stephanopoulos, about his new book, “The Situation Room, The Inside Story of Presidents in Crisis.” Host: NewsdayTV Anchor Jasmine Anderson

Newsday Live: A Chat with George Stephanopoulos Newsday Live and Long Island LitFest present a conversation with the former senior advisor to President Clinton and co-anchor of "Good Morning America."

Latest Videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME