Leeward hospital receives
state’s top scan equipment

The technology gives doctors faster,
more detailed information

Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi has acquired the first 40-slice computer tomography scanner in Hawaii, permitting faster and more detailed exams for life-threatening illnesses.

It is the most advanced imaging technology available, up to two to 10 times faster than four- to 16-slice scanners, said Dr. Gordon Ng, medical director of diagnostic imaging at Pali Momi.

"Since it's faster, it's better for patients," he said, especially older people with breathing difficulties or who are in distress. "They do better if they're examined faster."

Images also are of better quality because there is less motion, he said.

The more powerful scanner also has different capabilities, Ng said, as the image information can be used to generate very detailed 3-D images.

"The possibility of discovering diseases at an early stage, when a wider array of effective treatment options may be available, will help doctors make an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment for patients."

Ng said the new scanner's speed will be valuable in emergency cases, where doctors must make quick critical decisions.

Tim Dumlao, computer tomography technologist at Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi, works at one of the new work stations with the recently installed new CT scanner in the background. The machine performs 40 slices in one rotation and scans at an astonishing 40 images a second.

Another advantage is that it has a table weight capacity of 440 pounds, so it can be used for larger patients, he said. Scanning was difficult in the past because most equipment could not accommodate them.

The equipment is costly, Ng said, "but we believe it is a significant investment for the hospital just so we can provide medical care to the Leeward community."

Dr. James Kakuda, general surgeon and surgical oncologist, said surgeons have been using the 40-slice CT scanner, which was installed in April, and had a drawing to see who got to use the new surgical suite first.

He said the scanner improves both quantity and quality of information: The patient can be scanned faster, and more patients can be scanned. Also, as breathing creates some movement, scanning between breaths eliminates that artificial movement.

"You can accrue more data so we can reconstruct images," he added, "and if you want to look at things at different angles, they can reconstruct 3-D images."

The Pali Momi hospital also opened Leeward Oahu's first fully integrated minimally invasive operating suite with a blessing last month. Minimally invasive surgery involves making several small incisions instead of one larger one, which reduces trauma and pain and enables faster recovery.

Kakuda said, "The suite doesn't bring anything new in terms of capabilities to the hospital, but it streamlines disparate technologies into one cohesive form so utilization of technologies becomes easier."

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