Students aren’t the only ones getting new equipment this fall. Northern Montana Hospital is updating their imaging, with a new computed tomography scanner this month and a new magnetic resonance imaging machine next month.
The CT scanner was wheeled into the hospital this week to replace the old machine that has been used for nine years.
“It’s a new state-of-the-art scanner,” Steven Liston, a radiologist from Northern Montana Hospital said. “It’s faster, which means less repeat scans.”
It’s faster because it has got 10 times the sensors.
“We could scan a whole body in five seconds,” Liston said.
The new scanner, which uses x-rays, is much safer too. Liston described the “automatic exposure control” which limits the radiation exposure to only the exact amount required for each shot.
“It’s going to be about 30 percent less x-ray exposure with just as good or better images,” Liston said.
The MRI machine will replace the old one, that is so large it will have to be lifted through the roof, in October.
The new scanner brings a massive increase in resolution, for “much better spatial resolution.”
“In other words, we’re going to be able to see fine details in ligaments of the wrist, which is pretty difficult with what we have now,” Liston said.
The MRI will also allow angiograms, images of the flow through blood vessels, without the “IV contrast” injections that used to be needed to see dense blood vessels in the neck and head.
And the patient experience inside the machine should be more pleasant as well.
“There’s a lot of banging in the MRI machine, a lot of people find that objectionable,” Liston said. “This is probably, by 30 decibels, the quietest MRI scanner in the world.”
Both machines are not only necessary now, but make future upgrades easier than ever.
Liston said these machines are now made to be modular, which means that individual components can be replaced separately. New scanners or other hardware can be added to improve performance even more later without replacing the whole machine.
“I would not be surprised if the basic hardware lasts 20 years,” Liston said.