Riverside Tappahannock Hospital is pleased to announce that it has completed a yearlong project to construct and install a new, state-of-the-art CT scanner. Patients began utilizing the Siemens Definition AS 64-Slice scanner this month (Sept. 22), which enhances patient comfort thanks to its larger size, produces more imagery and puts out less radiation, among other benefits.

"Our patients here in Tappahannock and across the Northern Neck deserve the most state-of-the-art medical technology," said John Peterman, Vice President and Administrator of the Riverside Tappahannock Hospital. "The introduction of this CT scanner to the community is one more way we are providing what this community needs. We're proud to be a community hospital and honored to constantly implement ways to improve patient care."

A CT (short for computerized tomography)scanner, more commonly referred to as a CAT scan, emits a series of narrow beams through the human body as it moves through an arc. For comparison, an X-ray machine sends just one radiation beam. The final picture from a CT scan is far more detailed than an X-ray image.

A CT scanner can see different levels of density inside the human body, giving physicians and medical teams a look at soft tissues, including inside a solid organ. The data collected from a CT scanner is transmitted to a computer where it generates a 3D cross-sectional picture of the body.

CT scans are often the preferred method of diagnosing many cancers, identifying if a patient has bleeding or swelling on the brain, seeing if internal organs are inflamed or swollen, providing valuable data on a patient's vascular condition, and revealing details on a patient's hands, feet and other small skeletal structures. Amy Walls RTH CT Tech_opt

Riverside Tappahannock Hospital commenced its efforts to upgrade its CT scanner last year. On average, the hospital performs up to 15 CT scans on patients each day.

Construction in the radiology department room in the hospital that houses the CT scanner began on Aug. 14. The team of nearly a dozen CT Technicians worked from a mobile CT scanner at the opposite end of the hospital during construction.

"It took a little over five weeks to knock down a wall, redo the CT scanner room, put it in, install the new machine and have us ready to roll," said Amy Walls, the CT Lead Technologist at the hospital. "It was a very fast project" once it got going.

To address patient needs, the new CT room includes a private dressing room and is more spacious so it's easier to move around.

The new CT scanner debuted on Sept. 22, Walls said, and has received nothing but positive reviews since.

Walls called one of the most noted enhancements of the new scanner its ability to more quickly capture more pictures.

"Most readings can typically be back within 30 to 45 minutes," Walls said.

The new CT scanner also emits less radiation. People usually associate "faster" with "more," Walls said, but in this case, the scanner is able to use less radiation to capture the enhanced imagery. It's also a more comfortable experience for the patients, she added.

The new CT scanner has a 78-centimeter gantry system, meaning "the hole is bigger and the length of the machine is longer, so there is much more patient comfort than before," Walls said.

The increased size also means more patients in the Tappahannock and Northern Neck region can have their CT scans performed at the hospital.

"We're able to do more patients here that we weren't able to do before due to patient size," Walls said. "This scanner has a higher weight limit on the table."

From the hospital's technicians to the patients it serves, Walls said, "everyone has enjoyed the new scanner so far. They know its an upgrade" and that in Tappahannock they are "receiving the same kind of care they would receive at the Trauma Center at Riverside Regional Hospital in Newport News."

Published: October 6, 2014