Digital imaging replaces film

Washoe Health System invested well over $3 million in imaging equipment at its new medical center in South Meadows, but it didn't spend a dime on film.

Instead of film, the advanced imaging technology at the medical center produces digital images.

The upshot is that images will be instantly accessible throughout the Washoe Health System and at the offices of physicians, said Dr.

Tom Beidle, medical director of imaging services at Washoe Medical Center South Meadows.

And the speed of access to the images means that radiologists working around the clock with Washoe Health System can interpret what they see almost instantly, rather than waiting for a courier to deliver film.

That's particularly important, Beidle said, as the South Meadows campus operates a 24-hour emergency room.

Physicians will be getting a better look at patients as well.

The GE Excite magnetic resonance imaging system installed at the campus, which is billed as the first significant advance in MRI in 10 years, allows physicians to see more of the human anatomy faster and better.

They'll get better images, for instance, of the chest, heart, abdomen and pelvis.

For many patients, Beidle said, the new equipment will cut the time they spend in the MRI tunnel.

Currently, procedures calling for use of the MRI equipment take 20 to 90 minutes.

The new equipment allows some to be done in the quarter of the time.

That, in turn, will increase the number of patients that the imaging department can handle a key factor in generating revenue in the imaging department.

Beidle said Washoe Health System invested about $1.8 million in the new MRI equipment.

Another $1 million was invested in a new CT scanner at Washoe Medical Center South Meadows.

It produces high-resolution images and is used for ultrasound, general radiography and fluoroscopy.

Other infrastructure pushed the cost of the center above $3 million.

With some minor software upgrades planned in the near future, the center will provide imaging of the colon and coronary arteries, image fusion and 3D capabilities, Beidle said.

Washoe Health System executives are confident the investment will pay off.

"The demand for imaging is increasing throughout the area," Beidle said.

Population growth accounts for some of the increase, as does the aging demographic as the region attracts larger numbers of retirees.

The south-Reno imaging center runs one of four MRI systems in Washoe Health System, which has reported scheduling backlogs at other locations.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment