New state of the art scanner to improve treatment

Apr 20 2010

Local patients, clinicians and researchers now have access to the world’s top CT imaging system, as a result of an international medical partnership announced today.

Hunter New England Health, the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Stroke Research Group, and Toshiba have joined forces to fund the $2.8 million Toshiba Aquilion One CT scanner, which will improve clinical care and stroke research in the Hunter community.

The scanner, which was recently installed at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, allows doctors and researchers to see a more complete picture of what is happening in a patient’s brain and identify more patients who could benefit from brain-saving clot-busting (thrombolytic) treatment.

Director of Hunter New England Imaging Michael Symonds said the 320 slice scanner would increase the capacity of clinicians to undertake clinical diagnosis.

“The CT scanner will provide fast, high quality images to doctors resulting in a quicker diagnosis and access to treatment for patients suffering from serious illness or trauma,” Mr Symonds said.

“The faster scan times will also ensure that the procedure is more comfortable for patients, particularly for children and elderly patients who may have difficulty remaining still,” he said.

The new technology provides a three dimensional video of the brain, revealing how blood flows in and out. It also allows for multiple body areas such as the chest and the lungs to be scanned at the same time, reducing the time a patient’s scan will now take.

“The Aquilion One will join the existing scanner in John Hunter’s Radiology Department allowing patients being treated in the emergency department to undergo the required scans more quickly so that treatment can commence sooner,” Mr Symonds said.

Staff Specialist in Neurology and Director of the HMRI Stroke Research Group Associate Professor Mark Parsons said as well as increased diagnostic ability, the new CT Scanner would also assist HMRI’s Stroke Research Group to carry out cutting edge stroke and neurological research.

“With this technology we can scan the whole brain in around five minutes and observe how blood is bypassing the blockage caused by the stroke,” Professor Parsons said.

“Previously we could only scan less than half of the brain. Having access to more detailed images of the whole brain will allow us to identify more patients who could benefit from thrombolytic treatment.

“Thrombolysis has been shown to improve outcomes by dissolving blood clots in the brain, allowing blood flow to return to the brain, thereby preventing the stroke damage.

“This new CT Scanner will provide the highest quality images available and allow us to make further improvements to the treatment of stroke patients,” he said.

Currently only a few expert stroke centres including John Hunter Hospital use CT perfusion to select patients for acute stroke treatment. In time, it could become routine clinical practice worldwide.

“Toshiba is committed to leading innovation in technology, and is proud to partner with the HMRI Stroke Research Group, which is recognised as an international leader in imaging research, and Hunter New England Health in this venture,” said Toshiba National Marketing Manager Maryanne McHugh.

The CT Scanner will complement an array of other diagnostic images services provided across Hunter New England Health by Hunter New England Imaging.

The HMRI Stroke Research Group combines the expertise of clinical researchers from Hunter New England Health and medical researchers from the University of Newcastle. HMRI is a partnership between Hunter New England Health, the University of Newcastle and the community.

Media opportunity – Tuesday 20th April 2010

Time:     11.50am for a 12 noon start
Where:   Foyer, Royal Newcastle Centre (adjacent to John Hunter Hospital, Lookout Road, NewLambton Heights)
What:     3D video imaging of the brain, demonstration of the new scanner, interviews with Mark Parsons (stroke researcher), and representatives from Toshiba and Hunter New EnglandHealth.

Media contacts:

Sharna McCarthy, Hunter New England Health Communication Officer, phone 0414 883 074 or 02 4921 4501.

Lauren Eyles, HMRI Communications Manager, phone 0434 600 940 or  02 4921 4841.

Maryanne McHugh, National Marketing Manager, Toshiba (Australia), phone 0417 661 968.