Study finds portable CT reduces cost, improves care of ICU patients

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NeuroLogica’s CereTom portable head/neck multidetector CT scanner was found to have an economic and clinical benefit for imaging patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), according to a study published in the March/April issue of the Journal of the American Healthcare Radiology Administrators.

The study, conducted by Thomas Masaryk, MD, department chair of diagnostic radiology at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and colleagues, concluded that portable head/neck CT scanning:

1. Provided significant savings in terms of cost and time while providing clinicians with diagnostic images equivalent to that of their fixed full body scanners;

2. Allowed the fixed conventional scanner to be dedicated for a greater number of outpatient studies by eliminating the bottleneck of time-intensive ICU patients; and

3. Eliminated clinical dangers associated with the transport of critically ill patients.

The researchers based their results on 502 scans performed on ICU patients over four months. According to the data, fewer personnel were required to conduct a scan which translated into an annual FTE cost savings of about $160,000. In addition, with the fixed conventional scanner dedicated to perform a greater number of less time-intensive outpatient studies, an annual increase in revenue of about $460,000 on the fixed full body scanner was realized.

The CereTom was installed at Cleveland Clinic in October 2006 and has provided a full return-on-investment within the first 6.9 months of its operation, an internal rate of return of 169 percent, and a five-year expected economic benefit of approximately $2.6 million according to the authors.

Portable CT imaging achieves a total scan time of 18 minutes per patient, as compared to the average of 50 minutes when transporting to the fixed full body scanner. Researchers also noted that portable CT imaging resulted in faster clinical decision-making without compromising the desired nurse-to-patient ratio in the ICU while significantly reducing the risks associated with transport of ICU patients, according to the Danvers, Mass.-based Neurologica.