New diagnostic imaging equipment at HHS – including a first-of-its kind CT scanner in Canada
There’s excitement in the air at Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) McMaster University Medical Centre (MUMC). The diagnostic imaging (DI) unit at MUMC recently welcomed newly renovated rooms and upgraded equipment, part of HHS’ Managed Equipment Service contract with Siemens Healthineers.
The journey towards completing the renovations and upgrades stretched out over several months. The first of the renovated rooms were completed in fall 2021. New equipment has been arriving since then, with more scheduled to arrive in stages throughout 2022.
“Staff are very excited to see this massive transformation take place,” says Eric Ricker, manager of DI at MUMC. “It gives them the opportunity to work with some of the newest state-of-the-art equipment available.”
First computed tomography scanner of its kind in Canada
A new computed tomography (CT) scanner was installed in June, making HHS the first hospital in Canada to have this type of machine. Newer features provide more functionality, faster processing, and improved image quality.
“To be the first hospital in Canada to have this CT machine shows that we value research, innovation, and learning when doing equipment replacement,” says Ricker. “The new technology and features allow us to expand our services and stay current with the latest trends. Being a show site for this new equipment and allowing our staff and patients the ability to use it is one of the ways HHS stands out as a leading hospital.”
Every patient who comes to MUMC, whether adult or pediatric, will have access to the new CT.
“The new machine will run 24/7, allowing us to use the newest technology for emergency and outpatients,” says Nicole Koopman, registered X-ray technologist in CT.
The machine was built to be patient-centred, providing technologists with a built-in camera and tablets to stay with the patient while setting up the scan.
“When working with complex and difficult patient cases, we now have a low-dose, reliable scanner to continue providing our outpatient care,” adds Erin McCreith, also a registered X-ray technologist in CT. “Physicians will also be able to make more accurate diagnoses thanks to the higher quality images.”
Expanding X-ray capabilities
MUMC’s DI unit also welcomed a new mobile X-ray machine in February 2022. Like the new CT scanner, the mobile X-ray also emits a lower dose of radiation.
“The new X-ray will provide ‘Best Care For All’ by using a much lower dose of radiation to acquire a high quality image,” says Jennifer Wiebe, registered X-ray technologist. “The images acquired on the new machine are of utmost quality. This helps in the diagnosis of patients by our radiologists.”
Along with a new mobile X-ray machine came a new X-ray room with new equipment, too. Technologists say the new machine is easier to operate, making day-to-day operations much smoother.
“The new machine is very ergonomically friendly,” says Katie Martin, X-ray technologist. “The machine positions itself, meaning the technologists no longer need to move such heavy equipment.”
Newer ultrasound technology is another first in Canada
There are also three new ultrasound rooms in DI at MUMC, which were completed in October 2021. One of the rooms has already received a new ultrasound machine, with two more expected to arrive later this year.
The additional rooms create a dedicated space for MUMC’s growing pediatric patient population. Pediatric ultrasound was initially mixed within the adult ultrasound area. There is a growing demand for imaging without radiation for the pediatric population, so the new ultrasound rooms were built to accommodate this need.
The new ultrasound machines will be used to diagnose bladder and renal abnormalities or the presence of reflux in the urinary system. “Doing so will provide a more patient-friendly experience without any radiation exposure,” says Ricker.
Better imaging and improved wait times for patients are also some of the additional benefits of this newer technology.
“We will be able to accommodate more outpatient ultrasound requests, reducing current wait times for patients,” says Tracey Pow-Herrity, senior ultrasound technologist at MUMC. “The new equipment allows us to remain current and provide newer imaging techniques that we were not able to provide previously. We can now share additional information with doctors, who can then provide improved care for patients.”
Making way for new MRI equipment
The renovated ultrasound rooms made space for a new MRI machine at MUMC which arrived in May 2022. Installation of the new MRI was covered by local media and on HHS’ social media channels.
“Some of the new automated features of the MRI allow you to position patients, set up scans, and reconstruct images at a faster rate to improve the efficiency and throughput,” says Ricker.
The new MRI machines also feature “whisper” technology, a big win for MUMC’s younger patients. “MRIs can be loud and intimidating for the patient population,” says Ricker. “The new machine has reduced sound and a large bore, which will help improve the patient experience. It also has a built-in video system and lightweight coils for better comfort.”
Better technology overall for patients
Whether it’s the new CT, ultrasound, MRI or X-ray equipment, HHS is excited to continue its Medical Equipment Services journey with Siemens Healthineers for the benefit of patients and staff. “Knowing we have equipment that is reliable and has the latest technology is an amazing feeling,” says Ricker. All new equipment will be put into use immediately to help reduce wait times for DI services.