Yale New Haven Hospital became the first facility in Connecticut to install a weight-bearing CT scanner for limb imaging in orthopedic patients. Unlike traditional CT scanning, which requires a patient to lie on a bed, patients can be imaged by the weight-bearing CT scanner while standing to better see and understand how injured bones and soft tissue appear in a more natural position.
The scanner, which is housed in the North Pavilion, provides high-resolution three-dimensional CT imaging of a patient’s legs in a natural state.
“To see how fractured bones are oriented under a normal load with high-resolution CT and three-dimensional reconstructions is a tool we have not had until now,” said Andrew Haims, professor of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging and of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at Yale School of Medicine.
“The scanner not only is able to scan in ultra-thin sections, but it also has software that allows for improved imaging of patients with metal from orthopedic hardware and joint prostheses. Evaluating orthopedic patients with metallic implants is an integral part of musculoskeletal imaging,” said Haims, who is also the division chief for musculoskeletal imaging.
Patients who are unable to stand often can be imaged while standing, and in most cases can be accommodated while sitting in a wheelchair, he said.
An additional advantage of the new cone beam scanner is its ability to easily position patients for hand, wrist and elbow imaging. On conventional CT scanners, patients have to be positioned with the injured extremity above the head, which can be difficult.
“When patients cannot be positioned on conventional scanners with the arm overhead, the radiation dose is much higher and the imaging quality suffers significantly,” Haims added. “Decreasing radiation dose for medical imaging is paramount for patient care.”