Eliminates need to transport patients to radiology

By William K. Alcorn



One of the newest innovations in neurosurgical care, a portable CT scanner that will benefit the intensive-care unit’s sickest of the sick, is in service at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown and Boardman.

Computed tomography scans, or CTs, are often required to diagnose critically ill patients, said Dr. Kene Ugokwe, a neurosurgeon at St. Elizabeth.

Computed tomography is a technology that uses computer- processed, high-quality images of the brain and surrounding tissue to produce tomographic images (virtual “slices”) of specific areas of the scanned object, allowing the physician to see what is inside without cutting it open.

Transporting patients with neurological conditions to radiology, however, creates a risk of complications, while rare, that include: breathing machine tube dislodgement, intravenous-site removal, lack of monitoring while in an elevator, and taking intensive-care unit nurses off the unit, said Daneen Mace-Vadjunec, a registered nurse who is program director for Trauma and Neuroscience for Humility of Mary Health Partners.

The eight-slice, small-bore CereTom portable CT scanner “virtually eliminates these risks, allowing the surgeon to efficiently diagnose and treat neurological conditions,” Dr. Ugokwe said.

The patients who will benefit from this technology are the sickest of the sick and not breathing on their own, Mace-Vadjunec said.

Instead of taking them out of the ICU with its specially trained nurses and doctors and monitoring equipment to radiology for a CT scan, the CT scanner is brought to them, she said.

Another advantage of a portable CT scanner is that physicians can see in real time during the operation if all of a tumor, for example, has been removed, and if not, continue the surgery.

In the past, Mace-Vadjunec said, the patient’s bone flap was replaced and the skin stitched up after surgery. The patient was then taken to radiology to determine if all of the tumor had been removed. If not, a second surgery would be necessary.

“The CereTom portable CT scanner is one more tool in the toolbox to take care of critically ill patients,” Mace-Vadjunec said.

The portable CT scanner can also be valuable for trauma victims with head injuries who are brought in for treatment at St. Elizabeth’s Level I Trauma Center.

For example, if a patient has been in a car crash and has blood on the brain and the clots are removed, the patient needs a CT scan the next day to diagnose what is going on.

The same principle applies. The CT scanner is brought to them, avoiding a trip to radiology, said Mace- Vadjunec.

A typical medical team in ICU includes a surgeon, anesthesiologist, intensivist, specially trained critical-care nurses, respiratory therapists, radiology technicians and house-keeping staff.

Added to the $600,000 cost of the CereTom portable CT scanner, HMHP also invested in two weeks of training for physicians and ICU staff, Mace-Vadjunec said.

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