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Close to perfect

April 08 , 2019

Huntsville Hospital Heart Center is in elite company thanks to a recent technology upgrade.

The Heart Center is the only health care facility in North Alabama – and one of just a handful nationwide – using Siemens’ top-of-the-line cardiac computed tomography (CT) scanner. Most of the others are located at renowned teaching hospitals like Mayo Clinic.

“This exact scanner is used by some of the most prestigious institutions in the country,” said cardiologist Michael Ridner, MD, medical director of the Heart Center’s cardiac CT program. “The images we are getting are close to perfect in terms of allowing us to visualize the heart, blood vessels and surrounding structures. The clarity is truly remarkable.”

Older cardiac CT machines take about 15 seconds to fully scan the heart. Because the heart beats the entire time, the resulting images typically have some motion blur.

Dr. Ridner said the new Siemens model is a huge leap forward because it can fully scan the heart in less than a second, which virtually eliminates motion blur. It’s also safer because patients are only very briefly exposed to radiation, he said.

With the new CT images, physicians can see tiny bits of plaque inside the arteries that are early warning signs of heart disease.

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