Community counts: improving imaging for RCH kids

Thanks to community support, the RCH is now home to a state of the art Nuclear Medicine SPECT/CT Machine, a first for the children of Victoria.

This combined machine includes a SPECT gamma camera, integrated with a CT scanner, meaning for the first time at the RCH, these two different types of images can be taken together during one visit. It’s already having a big impact, supporting patients from across the hospital.

SPECT stands for single photon emission computed tomography. With this type of scan, images are taken once a patient has been administered with a radioactive tracer, which is distributed to a specific area in the body. This tracer is then detected by a SPECT camera, which rotates around a patient’s body to produce a three dimensional image.

CT or computed tomography scans are obtained when an X-ray machine rotates around a patient to provide a three dimensional image of their anatomy.

Duncan Veysey, Deputy Chief Medical Imaging Technologist and Senior Nuclear Medicine/PET Technologist at the RCH explained how the combined SPECT/CT Machine is able to take both of these scans concurrently, improving patient care at the hospital.

“The combined machine enables us to overlay these two types of scans. We can use the image taken from the CT scan to identify exactly where the radioactivity displayed in the SPECT image is in a patient’s anatomy,” said Mr Veysey.

For clinicians, these more detailed images mean they can diagnose conditions and recommend a treatment plan with greater certainty and accuracy. Being able to do this is particularly important for patients with complex medical conditions, who require specialised and ongoing care.

“Not only does it enable clinicians to more precisely locate a site of injury, disease or infection, but it also potentially reduces the amount of anaesthetic and radiation procedures patients are exposed to, by being able to perform multiple tests during a single visit,” said Mr Veysey.

Traditionally, there has been a correlation between the amount of radiation a patient receives, and the quality of image that is produced.

“With any medical imaging procedure, we are always conscious of the need to balance radiation dose and image quality. However, with the SPECT/CT machine we’re able to produce the highest quality images, whilst also exposing patients to the lowest radiation dose,” said Mr Veysey.

The RCH is also committed to making sure patients are as relaxed and calm as possible during the procedure.

“The SPECT/CT can take scans more quickly and even play movies on a monitor, meaning patients can watch a film while undergoing the scan.”

“The machine can look quite daunting, so by being able to play something patients enjoy, they are definitely more relaxed and calm throughout the whole process,” said Mr Veysey.

There is also the ability to just use the CT component of the machine. During critically busy times, or in the event of a large scale disaster, the hospital has access to an additional CT scanner, to complement the existing machine.

“We are fortunate to have this top of the range, flexible model at the RCH, and are very thankful to our community of supporters for funding such a vital piece of equipment.”

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