The dual-energy CT is another invention in the recent CT technology. This technology has been found successful for cases of heavily calcified coronary arteries. The problem in such cases was the inability to distinguish between the calcification and the contrast material. With dual-energy CT, the different tube energies used are helpful in differentiating the two from each other. While in the past the technique was only thought to be possible with the specific machinery, scientists are looking at other methods to achieve the same effect.
Using sophisticated generator switching technique, the same dual energy effect can be achieved. This however, is still under observation and will require some time before complete application. (Fishman, 2006) DSCTs have been found to resolve the issue of speed-power that has been vexing radiologists for so long. This technique is different from the 64 multidetector CT scanners and its different designs. In this technique two X-ray beams and two detector arrays are used, eliminating the need for multiple detectors. Both these beams are placed at right angles to each other.
This means that at any given heart rate, the images obtained will be of high quality. This system rids the doctor of many problems, such as the administration of the beta blocker drug, and CT scanning for those patients who previously were considered to be ineligible for the procedure. The use of beta blockers is of concern in patients who have asthma, hypotension or any mild form of heart failure. (Yee, 2007) The only issue that prevents its uniform application is the cost of the equipment that is almost twice the amount that of the 64 multidetector CT.
however, this technique not only reduces the time of the procedure by half, but also improves the resolution quality by twice the amount. The short time of the total procedure decreases patient anxiety while reducing the workload on the staff. While the 64 multi detector series made it impossible for correct depiction of the heart imaging at high heart rates, the problem is eliminated with the DCST. (Yee, 2007) Further researches are underway to improve the contrasts that are used for CT imaging and improve the detection rates.
The introduction of iodinated non particulate contrast agent called N1177 is a new dye that is currently being used with the 64 slice CT. the identification of the macrophage rich plaque is significantly enhanced with the use of this medium when compared to the conventional CT contrast agents. The concept behind this new dye is that high risk plaques are typically composed of macrophages and other biological structures. The early identification of the macrophage laden plaques within the coronary system may help any serious incidents of heart attacks that are more common in the above mentioned types.
The specificity towards identifying high risk plaques may help in timely intervention for the patients, and may prevent them from having any negative outcomes such as heart attacks. (American College of Radiology, 2007) There is more awareness regarding the various diagnostic protocols among the patients as well as their potential benefits and side effects. This has led to a new generation of the patients, who have more control and autonomy about their health conditions, and have more concern about their health and methods to maintain it.
The use of CT scan for detection of multiple diseases is now a very common procedure, and many patients now routinely undergo it for screening purposes. This self referral is in many ways a good sign, for it helps the patient schedule these visits according to his or her ease, and brings the radiologist in direct contact with the person. These screening procedures may be a very good method for early detection of conditions such as heart pathologies or development of any cancerous lesion. Increased autonomy regarding the treatment decision increases the patient’s motivation towards living a healthier life style.
(Illes et al, 2003) This trend is now especially prevalent among the people of high socioeconomic status or educational level. Most of these patients utilized whole body scans which included the whole body, lung and heart examinations. Many claim that the direct-to-consumer marketing may actually motivate the patients to seek referral and physician advice before undertaking any procedure, while at the same time give the patient a feeling of satisfaction over control of his own health decisions.
Screening for various pathologies such as breast cancer and heart diseases has been introduced in the countries for many years. CT scans can be considered another modality introduced in to the screening procedures. With the introduction and innovation in the CT scans of the heart, the public may be more motivated to have their assessments done rather than undertake coronary angiography or other similar invasive procedures. This method and current trend is a very good sign for many health care physicians, for this means early detection and better chances of survival for the patients.
CONCLUSION: CT scanning of the heart is now the model of advancement in the detection of diseases of the heart. With improved technologies and more researches underway, CT scans will be able to virtually eliminate invasive diagnostic procedures of the heart. Not only is this a diagnostic modality, but CT is the screening tool for the future that can help save lives of millions of people with heart conditions.
REFERENCES American College of Radiology, 2007 CT Imaging with Use of Novel Contrast Agent may Predict Heart Attack in Waiting. Site last accessed on November 20th, 2007 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/health_medicine/heart_disease/