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:: By Megan Lisagor

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Investigations ::

Next Generation

Window to the inner world

photo:  next generation
Courtesy University of Chicago Hospitals

Radiologists have a need for speed—the faster they make diagnoses, the sooner patients receive treatment. Thanks to a new CT scanner, University physicians have picked up the pace. The scanner, produced by Philips Medical Systems and now in beta testing at the U of C Hospitals, comes with four times as many sensors as most machines on the market.

“It’s like having a car that would go 60 miles per hour, and then having someone bring you a car that goes 600 mph,” radiology professor Michael W. Vannier explains. “It’s awesomely fast.”

Chicago doctors began using the Philips Brilliance 64-channel CT scanner in March. With 64 detectors, the machine not only expedites the scanning process but also delivers a sharper picture. It reconstructs cross-sectional slices of the body into a three-dimensional whole that can be adjusted on a computer screen.

Applications for the new scanner include looking inside coronary arteries without a catheter (the image at right, for example, shows abnormal blood vessels after treatment) and freezing images of the beating heart. “The CT scanning we do today hardly resembles what we did a year ago,” Vannier says. When the new scanners hit the market, they’re expected to sell for $1.3 million to $1.7 million.