Low-dose X-ray captures full-body image in 13 seconds, saving critical time in the "Golden Hour"
The R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center is the first facility outside of South Africa to use Statscan, a new low-dose, digital X-ray system that can take images of the entire body in 13 seconds. The device, called the Statscan Critical Imaging System, will provide trauma doctors with critical information about a patient's injuries. The new system made its debut at the Shock Trauma Center during a ceremony on June 11.
"We are excited to see how the Statscan system can help us evaluate patients more quickly at Shock Trauma, a place where every moment counts," says Stuart Mirvis, M.D., director of trauma radiology at the Shock Trauma Center and professor of diagnostic radiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "This new technology will allow us to get high-quality images faster, with less radiation exposure to the patient and hospital staff."
When a patient arrives at Shock Trauma, the staff works quickly to assess and stabilize the patient, who likely has multiple injuries. Conventional X-rays can take more than 20 minutes, time lost in the "golden hour," a concept that began at the Shock Trauma Center. The "golden hour" means that patients who receive specialized treatment within the first hour after a traumatic injury are more likely to have better outcomes.
"When you're working in trauma, time and information are vital," explains Thomas Scalea, M.D., physician-in-chief of the Shock Trauma Center and professor of surgery and director of the Program in Trauma at the University School of Medicine. "Advances in imaging technology help us to provide better patient care by giving us vital images sooner."
With the FDA-approved Statscan system, a full-body scan can be done in about 13 seconds, detecting fractures or other injuries that aren't immediately apparent. The head-to-toe scan can also help doctors to track bullet trajectories, without the need to piece together several X-ray films to see the bullet's path.
With current equipment, doctors first take X-rays of the part of the body with the most obvious injury, possibly missing fractures in the extremities like the arms and legs. While it's most important to treat the most life-threatening injuries first, these secondary injuries can be critical to helping the patient make a full recovery.
"Certain wrist or hip fractures may be completely incapacitating if you don't pick them up early and treat them correctly," explains Dr. Mirvis. "But sometimes it's hard to detect them if the patient is unconscious or there isn't an obvious physical deformity. The Statscan system may be particularly advantageous in helping us to catch these orthopaedic problems earlier."
Unlike regular X-rays that take time to develop, the Statscan image can be displayed almost immediately at a viewing station. The digital technology allows doctors to magnify or rotate the image without affecting picture quality. In addition, the Statscan system emits up to 75 percent less radiation compared to current X-ray technology, depending on the part of the body being scanned.
The Statscan system had its beginnings in the diamond mines of South Africa. It was initially developed to scan workers at the end of the day to detect diamonds that could be hidden in clothing or possibly even swallowed. The goal of the system's developers was to create an X-ray device with excellent image quality but with radiation levels that were low and safe enough to be used daily. Medical imaging consultants working on the project immediately recognized its potential for emergency and trauma medicine.
The Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, a multi-billion dollar venture capital fund, and Netcare, the largest for-profit healthcare provider in the Southern Hemisphere, joined with the developers to create Lodox Systems, a consortium to develop and market the scanner for medical use worldwide via its U.S. based subsidiary located in South Lyon, Michigan.
Designers modified the system for hospitals, making it small enough to fit easily into an average bay in a trauma resuscitation unit. They also created a place for a gurney to slide under a C-shaped scanning arm, so the patient doesn't need to be moved, unlike many current X-rays or CT scanners where patients may have to be lifted off the gurney.
Developers hope the compact design and imaging speed also will make Statscan ideal for use in military settings, including on aircraft carriers. But they want to see how the system will work in a high-level trauma facility like the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
"We are very excited to be working with Shock Trauma, one of the world's leaders in trauma care," says Herman Potgeiter, Statscan inventor and Lodox Co-CEO.
"Shock Trauma's international reputation made it the obvious choice when we were looking for a place to debut the system in the United States."
The Shock Trauma Center will purchase the Statscan system with funds donated by Apple Ford's Drive to Survive, an annual fundraising event for the medical center led by George Doestch, president of Apple Ford.
"Maryland Shock Trauma has always been a pioneer working to find new ways to save lives," says John Spearman, vice president of the Shock Trauma Center. "Dr. R Adams Cowley created the concept of the 'golden hour' here in Maryland, and now this new imaging system allows us to once again take the lead in life-saving advances."
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