Crossing All Medical Specialties: Diagnostic Imaging

From the Summer 2012 StayHealthy publication

Today, it doesn't take super powers to see inside a person's body, but it does require some sophisticated technologies, and at Porter these technologies have come together to become the large, well-planned Diagnostic Imaging Department.

For the first 50 years after radiology became a sub-specialty in the early 1900s, the primary x-ray exam required up to 11 minutes of exposure time. Now, more than 100 years later, x-ray images are made in milliseconds and the x-ray dose is as little as 2 percent of what it was when the field was in its infancy.

Advances are still being made to reduce the amount of radiation patients are exposed to and Porter is leading the way. Not only is radiation safer overall today, but Porter is embracing the availability of new technologies. Porter Regional Hospital is the only health system in Northwest Indiana to make the investment to ensure that all of its CT scanners, including those at the Portage Hospital and at the Valparaiso Medical Center offer the lowest dose of radiation possible. In the last 18 months Porter has replaced three of its existing CT scanners with new 16-slice bright speed dose reduction scanners and upgraded the current 64-slice CT scanner to offer the lowest possible radiation dose at all of its facilities. Studies show it can deliver high quality images while lowering the radiation patients are exposed to by up to 50 percent.

No longer housed in a bunker in the basement, Diagnostic Imaging is located right off the hospital's first floor lobby, making it simple for patients to navigate from registration to imaging. Now the department's location makes it easier to be reached from the Emergency Department and other departments that routinely require imaging services. For instance, if someone comes in with a broken arm, they can get an x-ray right next door.

Porter took a hard look at all of its diagnostic services, many of which were decentralized at the previous hospital, and knew that it could build in a number of efficiencies to better serve our patients.

To further improve the department's delivery of service, all of the x-ray rooms are now digital, which means no more cassettes are required. The images are captured digitally and sent to the picture archiving system immediately, making it possible for physicians and radiologists to receive the images and provide results within minutes. Another advantage is that with digital imaging, the patient is typically exposed to a lower dose of radiation.

The changes in equipment, technology and the overall design throughout the department have required additional training for the entire imaging staff.

The Diagnostic Imaging Department is enthused about the high quality of care now available to the patients who receive services.