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The new CT scanner at ACH allows for faster and more efficient exams

By By Matthew Nascone
Five minutes can be a long time for an anxious person to wait for a CT scan, but Atmore Community Hospital has taken the initiative and reduced that waiting time to a mere 20 seconds.
The hospital has changed the way a CT scan is done with the brand new GE LightSpeed 16-slice CT Scanner. The reason the time of an exam has been drastically cut is because the $600,000 machine can take 16 images per revolution of whatever body part is being examined.
But the reduced exam time is not the only benefit of the new machine.
"This machine has more slices than before, but it has less radiation risk to the patient because it is faster," said ACH radiology manager, Caroline Hayles.
Of course the walls and doors will continue to be lined with lead to uphold every safety procedure, but the risk for the patient is not as high as in the past because of the new machine.
Another technological advancement of the CT scanner is how the images are viewed. In the past the images were printed out and viewed on film in front of a bright fluorescent light, but now they are digitally burned to a CD and viewed on a computer.
At ACH, Hayles and her staff do the exam, burn the images to a CD and send them to Dr. Larry Arcement, the hospital's radiologist, for diagnosis. And the Arcement said the images don't even have to be burned to a CD, he can hit a button when the exam is done and he can view the images on his computer.
"Radiologists can now look at the film in 3D on the computer," Arcement said. "And I remember in the 80s, I had a vision that people would walk through the doors to the ER and they would walk right through a scanner and we could find out right away what is wrong with them and point them in the right direction."
Arcement said the change in technology has affected his life as well.
"These machines have transformed my life," he said. "Because they have transformed what we can do in medicine and care of the patient. They can give us a precise picture of heart."
The images from the patient's examination can also be viewed via the Internet. Now if Arcement is not physically at the hospital, Hayles can send him the images through the Internet and he can give a diagnosis on the phone.
The Atmore Lions Club met Jan. 17 and took a tour of the radiology department to view the machine.