Emory Crawford Long Hospital (ECLH) is using a new single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging system, which experts say produces quicker, better and more diagnostic-quality images for cardiac patients than previous SPECT models.
Called dynamic single photon emission computed tomography, or D-SPECT, the scanner is used to evaluate the heart's function and blood flow to heart muscle. Following the injection of a small amount of radioactivity, it can image the heart to detect a lack of blood flow that results from a blockage in a coronary artery.
Using a small, stationary camera, the D-SPECT system is more accessible to those who are obese or claustrophobic and cannot use the standard donut-shaped rotating imaging machines. Because the new imager can also scan patients in two positions - sitting both upright and lying down - several images can be taken quickly and overlapped, comparing the two for a more accurate diagnosis.
"This new imaging system has better resolution and higher diagnostic accuracy than its predecessors because of its new hardware and software design and dual-imaging comparison capability," says Robert Eisner, PhD, co-director of Nuclear Cardiology and Cardiac MRI at Emory Crawford Long Hospital. "The quality of the images is excellent, which will help in diagnosing heart disease more reliably."
"SPECT is one of the least invasive tests to detect coronary artery disease," says Randy Patterson, MD, Linton and June Bishop Professor of Medicine (Cardiology), Emory University School of Medicine and medical director of cardiovascular imaging at Emory Crawford Long Hospital. "The images help us identify if there is a problem, then we can move on to treat it."
In addition to allowing use of lower doses of radiation, the new system also has a patient safety-dosing feature, where dosing information is linked to a chip on the patient's wristband and is scanned by the D-SPECT machine. Because each person's radioactive dosing is based on body mass, this technology ensures that the patient receives the correct radiation dose and guarantees that the D-SPECT imager acquires the appropriate amount of diagnostic information in the fastest time.