Hawkins County Memorial’s New CT Scanner Ensures Less Radiation, Tracks Total Amount Over Time

Patients who undergo a CT scan at Hawkins County Memorial Hospital are exposed to less radiation with a new scanner, which also tracks the total amount of radiation patients receive over time.

“We have seen a 40 percent reduction in the amount of radiation exposure for patients since we started using this CT scanner in August, and we think we can reduce it even more,” said Darlene Lee, Hawkins County Memorial’s radiology director.

“We have also been progressive in our use of this machine by including technology that enables us to tally a person’s exposure easily. It shows our commitment to deliver care safely, efficiently and effectively to produce a desirable outcome for patients.”

The tracking software alerts a patient’s physician when a predetermined radiation dose level will be exceeded so the physician can order a different test, if appropriate.

“We are excited to be able to share this CT scanner with the community,” said Greg Neal, the hospital’s president. “It is safer and more comfortable for patients, while still providing physicians with the high-quality 3D images they need. It reflects our desire to provide the community with the latest technology for their healthcare needs.”

The CT scanner – the Optima CT580 W from GE, with Dose Check – features adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction technology, allowing the scanner to produce crisp, clear images while filtering unnecessary radiation. It provides an automated radiation dose alert and figures radiation dosage based on a patient’s body mass index – a real plus when working with children.

“People are especially concerned about children’s exposure to radiation because of the potential long-term effects,” Lee said. “This new scanner helps us make sure we are using as little radiation as possible when we test children.”

The scanner is receiving positive reviews from the radiologists at University Radiology, which staffs that department at Hawkins County Memorial.

“I am thrilled with the new scanner recently purchased by Hawkins County Memorial,” said Dr. Jeffrey Peeke, one of the radiologists. “This investment in technology is greatly enhancing the level of care that we are able to deliver patients at the hospital.

“We are also excited that the new scanner has advanced software for coronary screening that enables us to detect and quantify the amount of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. This new capability will be a tremendous asset to physicians and patients in the community as heart disease is the leading cause of death in our country.”

Lee said the CT scanner provides additional benefits for patients, particularly for those who tend to feel claustrophobic during a test.

“It has a wider opening, so patients don’t feel so enclosed,” she said. “There is also a screen with calming images that patients can look at while they are having the test. And it is lightning fast, so the breath holds are short.” 

The new CT scanner is about more than having the most up-to-date technology – it represents the hospital’s commitment to provide the highest-quality care to patients.

“We always have the patients’ best interests at heart,” Lee said. “We want to be sure they get the best and most appropriate test, with the lowest dose of radiation possible, to diagnose their disease or injury. Patient safety and a focus on healing our patients are always paramount at Hawkins County Memorial.”