Philips Medical Systems has recently unveiled a new medical scanner that can take images of the inside of the body with stunning precision.
Brilliance CT Scanner
Called the Brilliance Computerized Tomography (CT) scanner, the machine generates images by taking X-ray images that last only a few milliseconds. Like other tomography machines, Brilliance takes images of slices of the human body and combines them to create realistic images of organs, blood vessels, and other body parts.
The Brilliance machine is called a 256-slice X-ray scanner because it sends out 256 pulses every 0.3 seconds, rotating around the body. The more images a scanner can take per second, the clearer the images turn out. At this rate, the machine can freeze-frame a beating heart in just two beats without blurring the image. It can also provide details such as the thickness of blood vessels and the state of heart valves.
While older scanners would have taken hours to perform a full-body CT scan, the Brilliance scanner can complete a full-body scan in less than a minute. The new scanner also reduces a patient's radiation exposure by up to 80% compared with other CT scanners.
Philips hopes that the $1 million machine will help doctors make more accurate diagnoses, especially when examining the heart or looking for small cancerous tumors. So far, the only hospital to use the scanner is the Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, which has been taking images for the past month.
Several doctors seem excited about the new scanner.
"It has very high resolution, which means you can look at smaller things in the lung and in the airways, and you can decide whether there is anything there and how best to get at it," said Keith Prowse, Chairman of the British Lung Foundation. "In the case of cancer, it will help us see how far it has spread. It will also help us pick up new patterns of abnormality. It promises to be a great advance."
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