SALINAS VALLEY — Diagnostic imaging has taken a huge technological leap forward within Mee Memorial Healthcare System following the acquisition of a state-of-the-art CT scanner.
While most hospitals use a 32- or 64-slice scanner, Mee Memorial’s new Toshiba 128-slice machine represents a significant advancement for South Monterey County patients.
“It’s fast, it’s efficient, and for patients with claustrophobia, it’s a breeze,” said Edgardo Ferrer, radiology manager at Mee Memorial Hospital in King City.
It now takes only 10 seconds to scan the chest, abdomen, head or neck areas, reducing scanning time by half. The new model has a similar operating system to the previous equipment, but it has more options for altering and improving images.
According to Ferrer, these images are produced immediately and can be manipulated, if needed, to achieve the correct angle, with clarity and resolution dramatically improved.
In addition, patients are now exposed to much less radiation through the use of dose-reduction software.
While X-ray is still sufficient for more clear-cut and superficial wounds, such as broken bones, those images are only 2D. When something deeper or more complex is involved, a Computed Tomography (CT) scan could be required. A CT scanner is actually slicing an area into 128 thin images and then assembling them again for a very defined, 3D image, making it much easier to visualize difficult-to-see places.
“The old scanner was a 16-slice machine, so upgrading from 16 to 128 slices — the resolution gained is dramatic,” Ferrer said. “Before, it took around 30 to 40 seconds to complete a scan. Patients are often surprised by how quick this one is. By the time they start to count to 10, it’s over. It saves time, produces better images, with less radiation; it’s a great offering and such a gift to have this state-of-the-art equipment here in our area.”
The Mee Diagnostic Imaging Department is equipped with X-Ray, MRI and CT images. MRI and CT scans have similar uses, but they produce images in different ways.
A CT scan uses X-rays, whereas an MRI scan uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves. CT scans are more common and less expensive, while MRI scans can produce even more detailed images.
Ferrer and his radiology department colleagues are all CT-trained. His training comes from time in the service, where he trained in radiology at the Balboa Naval Medical Center in San Diego. His on-the-job training started at Lemoore Naval Airforce Base but, as his family home was in Paso Robles, he applied at Mee Memorial 10 years ago and has been with the organization ever since.
The Mee Memorial network includes a hospital in King City and three comprehensive outpatient clinics; two adjacent to the hospital and the Albert and Donna Oliveira Clinic in Greenfield. Its service area spans more than 55 miles between Soledad and Bradley in southern Monterey County.