Date: 2/6/2008

New imaging technology gives St. Mary Medical Center Nuclear Medicine distinct advantage in patient comfort

HOBART - St. Mary Medical Center Nuclear Medicine department has acquired a state-of-the art Siemens Symbia® S gamma camera. This innovative system offers a more open design than standard gamma cameras and can accommodate patients of all body sizes and body types, as well as stretchers and wheelchairs. Features include advanced, high-quality imaging, an ultra-thin bed and a DVD player that enhance patient comfort during an imaging session. A gamma camera, such as the Symbia S, is a diagnostic technology that is instrumental in the early detection and staging of cancer, heart and other hard-to-diagnose disorders.

“Investments in technologies such as the new nuclear medicine camera are providing the patients and physicians of Community Healthcare System with the advanced knowledge they need to better manage and diagnose complex diseases such as cancer and heart disease,” said John Gorski, Senior Vice President of Hospital Operations for Community Healthcare System.

Other imaging technologies such as x-ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provide doctors with structural or geographic information inside the body. Special nuclear medicine cameras, including the Symbia S, detect the molecular makeup and metabolism of the body’s tissue and organs.

Nuclear medicine is a medical specialty that uses very small amounts of radioactive materials, or radiopharmaceuticals, to diagnose and treat disease. A special radioactive isotope is injected into the bloodstream through an IV or given orally. As the substance circulates throughout the body, it is picked up and incorporated into the body’s cells. The camera system works by detecting benign radiation emitted from the radioisotope given to a patient. Once inside the patient, the radioisotope is attracted to a specific organ or area of the body. These areas absorb the radioisotope in quantities greater than those absorbed by surrounding tissues. The radioisotope highlights the area to be examined thus permitting images of the internal body structures and other functions. Because of this, a nuclear medicine scan can detect things like cancerous lesions in the bones well before they are large enough to be identified by other means.

“The medical staff of the Community Healthcare System, as well as other referring physicians, now have the availability of the latest nuclear imaging technology,” said Janice Ryba, Hospital Administrator of St. Mary Medical Center. “Physicians can take advantage of the updated system locally, rather than sending their patients out of the area or to other area hospitals for nuclear medicine testing. We recognize the need to maintain a high level of advanced technology to meet the needs of our physicians and the community.”

While the idea of radioactive material inside the body may sound scary, a nuclear medicine scan is actually very safe, and uses no more radiation than a typical X-ray or CT scan alone. Other than the needle stick to start the IV, a nuclear medicine scan is non-invasive and involves simply holding still while lying on a table. The Symbia S system, with its flexible, open design, can accommodate a stretcher, wheelchair or those with various body sizes, including children. The system has a built in DVD player for patient comfort and entertainment, helping the time of the imaging process go by faster. The quantity of radiation used is minimal and has a short lifespan inside the body. There also is no risk to family members for exposure as the low energy dose cannot be passed from person to person.

“Our communities can rest assured that no matter what diseases they face, Community Healthcare System is going to find a way to help them prevent, beat or manage their illnesses better,” Gorski said. “The Symbia S gamma camera system is just one way we’re investing in the health of our residents and making sure they have access to the safest, the latest and the best technology and treatments available.”