File Photo Radiologist Dr. Ernest Behm peers out from the CT scanner installed at Mills Memorial Hospital in 2006. This model is approaching the end of its useful life and is being replaced this year.

Mills Memorial to get new CT scanner

It replaces model dating back to 2006

Mills Memorial Hospital is to get a new CT scanner by the end of the year, replacing the one purchased in 2006 which is now approaching the end of its useful life.

“The new unit is an improvement on the old, in terms of advanced technology resulting in slightly faster scans, better-quality images, and lower doses of radiation to the patient,” explains Eryn Collins from the Northern Health Authority.

A first budget of $1.876 million for the project has now been increased by $159,000 to $2.035 million when it was determined the new CT scanner is significantly larger than the one it is replacing.

That meant finding a new space in which to house it and the decision was made to renovate the hospital’s fluoroscopy room and then move that service to the current CT space once the existing scanner is removed, says Collins.

“Consultants have been hired for the design phase, which is expected to be complete at the end of July, with tendering for construction occurring during August, and construction starting at the beginning of September,” she says.

“Anticipated construction timeline would have the new CT up and running by fall, with the new fluoroscopy room ready in winter.”

Fluoroscopy is a type of medical imaging in which continous x-ray images are shown on a monitor.

Collins says any urgent cases during construction would be referred to the Prince Rupert hospital or alternate diagnostic services obtained.

There are fewer than 10 cases a month requiring fluoroscopy and very few cases would be considered urgent, she adds.

CT (computed tomography) scanning uses a computer to create images from x-rays to create detailed images of organs, bones, blood vessels and tumours to give physicians the best views on which to base treatments or conditions.

Mills Memorial does have another CT scanner called a SPEC CT which was installed in mid-2017. The acronym SPEC CT stands for ‘single-photo emission computed tomography’ which combines nuclear imaging with a chemical ingested by patients that then emits gamma rays to provide 3-D images.

The new scanner is being financed by the Northern Health Authority, the provincial health ministry and by regional taxpayers through the North West Regional Hospital District. Traditionally, regional taxpayers contribute 40 per cent of equipment purchases.

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