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Today's doctors helped by technology

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:08 PM

To make the best possible decisions affecting patient health, doctors depend on a variety of tools to diagnose illnesses.

Today, through medical advances, there are ways to pinpoint certain diseases and disorders through diagnostics. Whether it is a lab test, an X-ray or an MRI, physicians rely on the expertise of Fisher-Titus Medical Center's medical professionals to find the answers they need to help their patients. And, through a shared electronic network and its Picture Archiving System (PACS), physicians have immediate access to a patient's diagnostic images wherever a computer is available. FTMC's physicians can have the results of their patients' tests faster than ever.

Diagnostic Imaging

Today, diagnostic imaging is one of the most commonly performed medical procedures, with more than 300 million exams performed annually. Medical imaging is used for everything from measuring bone density to pinpointing brain tumors and from diagnosing breast cancer to checking on fetal health during pregnancy.

FTMC's radiology department completed 58,720 procedures in 2007. The divisions include:

X-Ray: This type of imaging is excellent for identifying acute fractures and is very specific to body parts. In 2007, 34,633 procedures were performed and included tests such as barium enemas and chest X-rays.

Mammography: A mammogram is a safe low-dose X-ray picture of the breast. FTMC has two mammography units and was the first hospital in the area to add computer-aided detection (CAD) technology, giving women the extra assurance of detecting abnormalities as early as possible. This year FTMC added technology so that Breast MRIs can now be performed. In 2007, 5,022 mammograms were performed at FTMC.

Ultrasound: This test operates on various wave signals. This test can provide images on many body parts and is extremely organ specific (i.e. liver, kidney, pancreas, prostate, uterus, etc.) In 2007, 5,577 procedures were completed.

Nuclear Medicine: Nuclear Medicine utilizes small amounts of radioactive drugs to look at internal organs, bones or soft tissues. Radioactive materials are introduced into the bloodstream by injection, orally or by inhalation. A special camera records the travel of the material as it travels through the body to help diagnose diseases and disorders such as cancer, blocked arteries and thyroid disease. In 2007, 3,522 tests were performed and include bone scans, lung scans and thyroid tests.

P.E.T. (Positron Emission Testing) Services: This high-level imaging utilizes nuclear medicine procedures to detect cancer, Alzheimer disease and heart viability. A mobile unit is regularly on the FTMC campus to provide this service to patients.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): Instead of X-rays, MRIs use a powerful magnet and radio frequency waves to gather information from a patient's body that are sent to a computer to determine the contrast and imaging. This test is body part specific and best for neurological studies (brain/spine) and also good for muscles and ligaments for joints. This year FTMC added technology so that Breast MRIs can now be performed. FTMC's MRI technologists completed 2,660 tests in 2007.

CT (computer tomography): This test combines the use of a digital computer with a rotating X-ray device to create detailed cross-sectional images or "slices" of different organs and body parts.

In December 2007, Fisher-Titus upgraded to a state-of-the-art 64-slice CT scanner. This non-invasive tool produces exceptionally high-resolution images that help doctors diagnose disease - including lung cancer and heart disease - much earlier than before. And its faster scan time means a shorter procedure for the patient and faster results for the physician.

The department performed 7,306 CT scans in 2007.

Laboratory Testing

Laboratory test results comprise an estimated 70 to 80 percent of the patient's medical records and are vital to the diagnosis and treatment of illness and disease.

In 2007, FTMC's laboratory completed 466,383 procedures including tests such as cholesterol, glucose, urinalysis, complete blood count, cultures and blood banking.

"We are proud of the work we do," said Robert Everett, FTMC's technical laboratory director. "We have to be meticulous in performing our jobs to provide dependable results to your family physician."

Using state-of-the-art technology and instrumentation, FTMC's laboratory professionals help to prevent disease by detecting unknown health problems and by aiding in the diagnosis and treatment of existing conditions by giving accurate, timely test results.

"Of the work we collect, we perform 97 percent of the testing at FTMC. Only 3 percent is sent out to reference laboratories," Everett said.

Fisher-Titus Medical Center's Department of Pathology and Laboratory Services is accredited by the Commission on Laboratory Accreditation of the College of American Pathologists (CAP). The department is one of more than 6,000 CAP-accredited laboratories nationwide. In our last inspection, which occurs every two years, we had no deficiencies.

Out-patient diagnostic laboratory testing is available without appointments or scheduling from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 6 a.m. to noon Saturdays. In addition, Fisher-Titus Specialty Services, 111 E. Main St., New London, offers laboratory hours from 7 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.

Diagnostic Tests for Your Heart

Your healthcare provider wants you to have some tests done on your heart. There are a variety of tests that might be performed. They will help you and your physician evaluate your heart's function to determine if you have heart disease.

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)

During an electrocardiogram, small electrodes (round plastic discs the size of a half-dollar) are placed on your chest. A machine then records your heart's rhythm, frequency of beats, and electrical conduction. An EKG may show if you have had a heart attack in the past, if the left ventricle is thickened, or if the heart rhythm is abnormal.

Chest X-ray

This is a standard X-ray of the chest area used to assess and determine the size of your heart and clarity of your lungs.

Echocardiogram (Echo)

This is a safe, painless test during which a technician moves an ultrasound probe over the outside of your chest. It gives off a silent sound wave that bounces off your heart, creating images of its chambers and valves.

The results show the thickness of the heart muscle, quantifies the pump function, and establishes the health and function of your heart valves.

Exercise Stress Test

Your physician will have you walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike to record your heart's activity during exercise. This test will tell whether your heart responds normally to the stress of exercise.

Nuclear Scan

This scan takes pictures of the heart muscle detecting the blood flow pattern throughout the coronary (heart) arteries. A small amount of radioactive material (dye) is injected into your vein (usually in your arm); a camera records how much dye is taken up by the heart muscle.

Angiography (Cardiac Catheterization)

Angiography is a series of X-rays taken after injecting dye into the coronary arteries through an IV placed in your groin or arm. Blockages in your coronary arteries causing abnormal blood flow to the heart muscle can be detected with this study.

Photo Caption:

Cathy Campbell, an FTMC radiologic technologist who specializes in mammography, reviews mammography images before processing it through the ImageChecker computer-aided detection (CAD) system. Then, the film and digitized images are given to an experienced radiologist to read and interpret.

Photo Caption: Registered CT Technologist Steve Friend looks at the monitor in the control room, while Registered CT Technologist Cherri Schaffer helps position the patient on the new 64-slice CT scanner to obtain desired images.

Photo Captions:

Vanessa Benesh, a medical technologist at FTMC is reviewing bacterial growth on a petri dish.

Marilyn Ganzmann, a medical technologist at FTMC is doing a microscopic examination of urinary sediment.

Photo of EKG

Photo coming

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