WAHOO – Saunders Medical Center began using a new computed tomography (CT) scanning machine on Jan. 17 that will open up doors into the future for the hospital.
The previous machine had been in SMC since 2007 when the hospital moved to the current facility. Imaging Services Manager Pat Dailey said that in the last two years it had become apparent SMC needed a new machine.
“We had it on the table to consider replacing that machine and our MRI machine because of technological advancements in the service,” Dailey said. “We kind of pulled the trigger this year and decided to do both.”
The new CT machine, a General Electric EVO 128-slice system, offers a wide variety of benefits including several patient friendly aspects, more efficient, high-quality scans and opportunities to add advanced services in the future.
The scanner is a 128-slice system which Dailey said means when the machine takes an image it can slice an image of an organ or other subject into 128 layers for providers to view. The older machine could only make 16 slices. The new machine also creates high quality images and corrects any picture disparity due to a patient having any metal implanted medical devices.
The machine also utilizes x-ray making it able to analyze bones as well as organs, soft tissues and blood vessels.
Dailey said the new machine is also very patient-friendly because of its efficiency when producing scans, an 80% decrease in radiation dosage and it allows for larger patients. The machine has controls adjacent to where the patient lays for the scan, which keeps technicians like Stacey Schnieder near the patient throughout the experience.
Schnieder said the adjustment to the new machine has gone well so far. The CT machine’s speed to produce photos makes the entire system much faster and opens a world of possibilities, she said.
“It’s so much faster,” Schnieder said. “We’re able to do exams on it that we were limited to before.”
Dailey said SMC purchased the CT machine along with a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and a portable scanning machine in a package for $875,000 in June 2020 from Brown’s Medical Imaging in Omaha. The CT machine cost $300,000, the MRI machine cost $475,000 and the portable scanning device cost $100,000.
“I guess I felt like for the price that we were getting it for and the ability to move forward in the future, I felt like it was a good decision,” Dailey said.
The MRI machine, a General Electric 450 W 1.5 Tesla Magnet system, won’t be installed until the end of March or early April. Dailey said the removal of the old MRI machine will take some construction before they can begin installing and utilizing the new machine.
Dailey said very few other hospitals similar to SMC do not have a CT machine this advanced. Schnieder said adding the new machine is just another way SMC can support its community.
“The hospital really tries hard to compete with those bigger hospitals in order to support the community and to keep people here and not having to travel,” Schnieder said. “I think it’s a great thing that SMC is always on top of it as far as technology.”