Vancouver General Hospital has recently acquired a new CT scanner that’s faster and safer for patients.
“Less intravenous dye is required to image the human body – the more dye you use, the more potential damage to your kidney,” says Dr. Savvas Nicolaou, director of the Emergency and Trauma Radiology department at VGH, which offers CT scans and care, 24/7, 365 days a year.
“Also, it has the lowest radiation doses close to even lower than plain x-rays and you don’t have to take medication to lower the heartrate to be able to visualize the arteries that supply blood to the heart as this new scanner freezes the heart motion given is turbo speed. It has double the shutter speed than a regular CT scanner so patients don’t have to lie still for long periods of time and you don’t have to hold your breath – you can breathe freely. It improves patient outcomes – I truly, strongly believe that."
He points at the large, donut-shaped machine. “This machine is a life saver.”
One of the really unique functions of the new scanner is that it can actually measure the chemical composition of the human body.
“It uses two energy levels instead of one. Now, we don’t need to do a biopsy or use a needle. We can actually see the chemical composition with this machine, we can look at the uric acid deposits, iron, copper…it’s amazing. It’s going to save so many people’s lives by looking into the human body.” We can now diagnose gout non-invasively without having to stick a needle into the patients.
This week also marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Emergency and Trauma Radiology department and they have a lot to celebrate.
“We are a world-leading program,” says Dr. Nicolaou. “It’s because of all of the innovation that has taken place within the program – all of the research and the advancement in the acute care imaging setting. We have changed imaging so much that we’re pioneers…trailblazers in the field.”
Dr. Nicolaou says program innovations like one of the first full-body trauma CT protocols in the world (Rapid Imaging Protocol in Trauma - RIPIT ) has led to other institutions around the globe paying close attention to what the program is doing.
“I’m asked to go around the world – to Harvard, to London, to Singapore – to talk about our work and experiences at VGH…what we have done from a chest pain perspective, from a trauma perspective,” he says of the program which was recently voted in Chicago at the largest Radiology Conference in the world as one of the top three ER trauma radiology programs in the world. “We are definitely world leaders here.”
Looking at Dr. Nicolaou’s face, it’s clear is proud to be part of this program.
“I’m ecstatic to be part of this,” he tells me. “I’m so proud to be part of this program and what we’ve achieved over the past 15 years. I’m truly honoured and privliged to be here at VGH, serving the people of British Columbia.”