When Blessing Hospital, a rural facility in Quincy, Illinois that serves over 250,000 patients annually, added a neurosurgeon who specializes in scoliosis to its roster of over 240 physicians, an addition to its arsenal of radiography equipment was not far behind. Megan Main, RT, a technologist in Blessing Hospital’s radiology department, says, “In the past, we had done multiple images when we were screening patients for scoliosis or determining whether surgery was needed. We see a lot of patients with scoliosis, from all age groups.”
The neurosurgeon Main mentions joined the staff about a year ago, and around the same time, the department installed a new iDR Long Bone DR system from iCRco. She explains, “With one long image that shows the entire spine, we are better able to measure certain degrees of the scoliosis, as well as the rotation. Having one image is really helpful when the physicians are looking at using Harrington rods for spinal surgery. The measurements they need are easier to take.”
The iDR Long Bone system is a DR platform that uses a 14x51-inch plate, which can capture a full-spine image in a single exposure. Usually, two or three images are required to capture the same span of anatomy, Main notes. “For many of our patients, this is the image that will determine whether they do or don’t have surgery, and this system lets us get it in only one exposure,” she says. “It also reduces the frequency of exposures. When the physicians can see and measure everything they need in one image, patients don’t need retakes as often.”
This is especially helpful for the team at Blessing Hospital, which sees a high number of patients for scoliosis screening and/or surgical planning (for a hospital in a rural setting)—up to two a day, Main estimates. According to the National Scoliosis Foundation, an estimated 6 million people in the United States have scoliosis, resulting in more than 600,000 patient visits to medical facilities per year. Annually, 38,000 patients undergo spinal-fusion surgery in the United States. “Since we got the new physician, we have seen an increase in the volume of our scoliosis studies,” Main notes.
With that kind of demand, efficient workflow is paramount, Main says. “Taking the images is a lot faster with this system than before,” she notes. “We only have to do one exposure; the physicians don’t have to spend the time piecing together where multiple images on different screens overlap.”
The iDR Long Bone system’s design enables technologists to obtain images while patients are standing; this, combined with the speed of the single exposure, enhances their comfort, Main says. “It’s completely easy for them: All they have to do is stand there, with their back against the board,” she says. “There’s absolutely no patient discomfort. We take our picture, and they’re done. It’s easy for us to use, and it’s easy on the patients.”
Further, the superior image quality offered by the system, as well as the single, unstitched image, keeps physicians satisfied, Main says. “It gives us really good images, so the physicians like having it as well,” she says. “It’s been a great tool since we’ve gotten it.”
The fact that the system is digital means that the radiology department at Blessing Hospital can also offer patients the option of taking their images with them on disc, which is particularly critical for pediatric patients who might also be working with faraway specialists. “We can still do their images for them, even if they’re not using our physicians—which is great for the younger ones with really severe scoliosis,” Main says. “It’s just another service that we can offer our patients.”
Cat Vasko is editor of ImagingBiz.com and associate editor of Radiology Business Journal.