WESTMINSTER — A new computerized axial tomography scan machine at Carroll County General Hospital should mean less waiting and scanning time for patients and clearer pictures for diagnostic use.
A scan that takes 30 to 40 minutes with CCGH's existing machine will take 15 to 20 minutes on the new one, a big difference to a patient who is in pain or claustrophobic or very young, said Dr. Edward Carter, chairman of the hospital's radiology department and president of the medical staff.
In CT scanning, the patient lies on a table while a doughnut-shaped unit X-rays the body in cross-section slices.
Carter said the faster scanning time will allow CCGH to schedule patients more quickly. In the past, they have had to wait a week to 10 days, except for in-patient or emergency situations, he said.
CT scanning is used to diagnose and pinpoint cancer, skeletal injuries, brain abnormalities,birth defects and other diseases.
The new machine produces betterimages even when patients move slightly, he said. With the old machines, patients had to hold their breath for each shot, wait for the unit to rotate back, then hold their breath for another shot.
The newer machine does not have to rotate back. It can scan continuously and take several shots in a few seconds, he said.
The $1.1 million Toshiba Express CT scanner is to be installed and in use by the end ofthis month, said Gill Chamblin, hospital spokeswoman. The unit is being paid for by the Carroll County General Hospital Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the hospital.
In the meantime, CCGH has rented a mobile CT scanner in a trailer adjacent to the hospital so that it can increase electrical and air-conditioning capacity in the CT suitefor the more powerful system. The old CT scanner has already been sold to an independent vendor, Carter said.
Last year, 3,400 patients used the hospital CT scanner, Chamblin said. She said officials expect a 25 percent increase in use once the new unit is installed.
Some of the increase is expected because of a growing and aging population in the county, Chamblin said, but also because people won't be as likely to go to hospitals outside the county if they can get into CCGH in less than a week.
Ken Geiger, the hospital's manager of diagnostic imaging, estimated that 90 percent of the patients who received scans last year were referred by county doctors.