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Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital Doubles Up with Hybrid Scanners

Western General Hospital in Edinburgh was one of the first hospitals in the UK to take delivery of two new GE Discovery SPECT/CT scanners, and the first in Scotland to use the technology.Helping health professionals and patients by providing advanced multi-layered ‘body maps’, the scanners assist physicians to diagnose more accurately and monitor  a range of conditions, and patients in the Lothian area of Scotland are already experiencing the benefits of these hybrid scanners.

72-year old Derek Lemon currently undergoes kidney dialysis twice a week at the Western General and needed a health check before being placed on the transplant list.  “This is a brilliant new facility and I was very impressed with the way I was treated by the staff.  I get dialysis two days a week and it takes a lot out of your life, so it’s great that I can now get the combined scan and I don’t have to spend as long in hospital getting different tests done.A brand new facility at the hospital houses the GE DiscoveryTM NM/CT 670 scanners which combine a Nuclear Medicine SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) system with a CT (Computed Tomography) system, enabling clinicians to build up and combine complex, multi-layered information. Think of the CT scanner as providing the road map, with the SPECT scanner adding very detailed information about traffic flow.

Winton Fairburn, Superintendent Radiographer at the Western General, says:  “Combining the nuclear medicine component, which is low resolution but highly sensitive, with the CT which is a high resolution test, means that patients will get a more accurate result and quicker resolution and treatment.”

The Nuclear Medicine system captures images of a patient’s physiological functions, such as the excretory function of the kidneys, the iodine concentrating ability of the thyroid or blood flow to the heart muscle.  The CT system provides the physician with an anatomical layout, overlaid with the images from the SPECT scan. This duality helps physicians provide a more accurate diagnosis for the patient. This hybrid system can also help reduce scan time and patient discomfort, and help improve hospital workflow, as well as reduce the number hospital visits for patients.

“The patients that benefit most from this type of technology are those currently undergoing or about to undergo treatment in cardiology, oncology or general nuclear treatment,” says John Mackenzie, Regional Manager Scotland, GE Healthcare. 

The SPECT system and the CT scanner can also be used independently, providing clinicians and hospitals with greater flexibility.  For hospitals, it means the CT scanner could also be used for more routine procedures (such as routine scans of a potential stroke patient or a routine heart scan) as well as more complex hybrid imaging.