Q: What are you doing to reduce patients' exposure to radiation during tests and screening?
When a patient comes in with a possible stroke, naturally the family's first priority is wanting them to get whatever tests they need to be treated and get better. But you're right to be thinking about limiting these scans. Especially when a test involves exposing the patient to radiation, we don't want to do more than necessary.
One way we limit exposure is by using the latest generation of imaging technology. For example, we often use X-rays to look inside a patient and diagnose a problem like an aneurism or a stroke. To do this, we need to inject a radioactive dye into the patient's bloodstream, and take pictures of it with an X-ray machine to see where it goes and spot any blockages or bleeds.
Instead of a standard X-ray machine, which only takes one image at a time, we use a biplane X-ray machine, which takes pictures from two angles at once. That cuts the number of scans we have to do in half, so instead of scanning the patient six or eight times—and giving them six or eight injections of that radioactive dye—we only have to do three or four. It's also faster and saves money, and it gives us 3-D imaging capabilities.
Using the latest generation of MRI and CT-scan machines also reduces your exposure. Not only do these scanners produce clearer and more accurate images than older technology, they're a lot faster. This MRI machine can diagnose a stroke in someone's brain in 45 seconds, while the CT scanner can image a patient from head to toe in a minute. That reduces exposure and helps us get patients into treatment sooner—which is what everybody wants.