New CT scanner provides better images with minimal radiation

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A new computed tomography (CT) scanner substantially reduces potentially harmful radiation while still improving overall image quality. National Institutes of Health researchers, along with engineers at Toshiba Medical Systems, worked on the scanner.

An analysis of data on 107 patients undergoing heart scans found that radiation exposure was reduced by as much as 95 percent compared to the range of current machines, while the resulting images showed less blurriness, reduced graininess, and greater visibility of fine details.

The machine recently received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but more studies will be needed before it can be adopted for wide clinical use.

Most CT scanners available in clinics have 64 rows of X-ray detectors. The new scanner has 320 detector rows, which allow imaging of a larger area of the body at one time.

The new scanner also has a more powerful X-ray beam generator. And the gantry ? the doughnut-shaped part of the CT machine ? can complete a full rotation in 275 milliseconds. Current scanners top out at 350-millisecond rotations.

In addition to hardware advances, the NHLBI team worked on the device settings and features with Toshiba to optimize radiation usage and image quality.

These improvements could help clinicians identify problems in even the smallest blood vessels or enable them to conduct complicated tests like measuring blood flow in the heart while limiting radiation exposure.

Source: National Institutes of Health, USA

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