By Lizzy Scully
Berthoud Recorder / Lyons Recorder
On March 16, 2009 Longmont United Hospital (LUH) will begin accepting patients at its new 3,500-square-foot Interventional Radiology Suite. The suite took seven years to become operational, from its inception to completion, and is located in the old emergency department. The new suite is much larger, has more technologically advanced equipment, and includes five rooms – the pre- and post-patient care rooms, the exam room, the reading room, the nursing station, and the technologist control room.
“It’s very exciting,” said Director of Imaging at LUH, Sherri A. Vasko-Steinbeck, BSRT, CRA. “We are advanced in our technology so we can offer a full range of services. It’s really a boost in the way we can care for the community.”
Interventional Radiology (also called angiography) is a subspecialty of radiology. An Interventional Radiologist performs minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment procedures that utilize instruments, such as catheters and guide wires with the assistance of fluoroscopic radiography, to produces images of the patient’s body.
IR procedures at LUH now include: chemo embolization, peripheral stenting/angioplasty, uterine fibroid embolization, arterial thrombolysis, vascular embolization, mediports, and tunneled dialysis catheters.
Benefits to patients are many, including: improved image quality for peripheral and visceral (abdominal) work; rotational angiography for carotids and intracranial imaging; Computed tomography-like imaging for complicated vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty cases. The pre- and post-exam rooms in the suite mean the patients will no longer have to be transported to a different department of the hospital for follow up care. This will provide consistent, comfortable care for each patient.
“Because of the design of the suite, we will have faster throughput and better patient care,” said Vasko-Steinbeck. The new space is an improvement for employees as well. Three technologists shared an area the size of a small kitchen. Now, said Vasko-Steinbeck, “the larger room along with the state of the art equipment gives us the opportunity to provide our patients the most modern, efficient care available keeping our patients close to home.”
While the new suite offers more space and allows easier patient care, it is the new equipment that will really enhance and speed up patient care, such as the 64-slice CT scanner (see accompanying article).
“With the change in equipment, we will have improvements of image quality,” explained Vasko-Steinbeck. “We’ll be able to do some Computerized Tomography imaging, building 3D images for backs and spines. In the past, we have had to send people outside of Longmont United Hospital, but we won’t have to anymore.”
The whole process, added Vasko-Steinbeck, required extensive planning and consulting with various departments at the hospital. “We had to take into consideration the needs of the radiologists, the nurses, and the technologists,” she said.
The final result of all this work, said Vasko-Steinbeck, is that the hospital will be able to give exceptional care to patients and will be able to alleviate the stress of family members “because patients will be right here in their own community.”
New Scanner Improves Longmont United Hospital Patient CareAs part of their efforts to upgrade the technology, Longmont United Hospital installed a 64-Slice Computed Tomography Scanner and completely remodeled the room that houses it.
“Longmont United Hospital is excited about the installation of the 64-Slice CT and providing this state of the art technology to our patients,” said Director of Diagnostic Imaging Sherri Vasko-Steinbeck, BRST,CRA.
Longmont United Hospital technologists are able to get accurate, high-resolution images and shorter scan times with the addition of the new CT. “Our intent is to make testing convenient for patients and doctors. Local physicians are now able to receive the most accurate images possible of a patient in a very timely manner,” Vasko-Steinbeck stated.
With older CT scanners, added CT Supervisor Maureen Foote, it would take several minutes to get a scan. Now a total-body scan takes about 30 seconds. “The scan is patient friendly as breathe hold times have decreased,” Foote stated, and “we get the reports faster, so their diagnosis is quicker.”
Computed Tomography is a scan of x-rays that produces detailed images of organs, bones, soft tissues and blood vessels. During the process, the CT rotates around your body taking images (slices) of the body. “The images are like a slice of bread. It allows us to see the organs from many different angles, ” Foote said. The new scanner can help diagnose cardiovascular disease, cancer, and blocked carotid arteries as well as identify masses or tumors.
Overall, the scanner and the new room—which “has a very pretty ceiling that all the patients comment on,” Foote stated—are huge patient satisfiers. Supplies are more accessible, and patients can be moved more easily in and out of the room. Plus, patients no longer have to hold their breath several times during the exam, which can significantly relieve stress, especially for people who have difficulty breathing in the first place.
“It’s more efficient while providing better images,” Foote added. “And it makes a big difference in our patient’s comfort.