MDCT Changes the Rules

When 64-slice multidetector CT scanners rolled out almost three years ago, no one could comprehend the changes they’d bring to radiology. It’s kind of like trying to explain parenthood to someone who’s never had a child. I know I didn’t “get it” until my oldest son was born.

And so it goes for the new “parents” of MDCT systems, they’ve had to learn the key terms to purchase a scanner to meet their needs, make sure the department and enterprise are aware of the new arrival, assure informatics integration — namely with the size, volume and complexity of data (MDCT images are 10 times the size of conventional CT), define new workflow for the techs and radiologists, train techs on new scanning protocols while radiologists gain fluency in new hanging protocols, advanced visualization and viewing techniques as well as hardware and software, figuring out shared reading among radiologists and cardiologists, working out new storage requirements and making sure radiology can quickly share images and reports with specialists and referring physicians. Phew, at least there are no 3 am feedings.

The good thing is that once parents adjust to 64 slice, when it’s time for sibling 256-slice to come on the scene, the necessities are in place since image sizes will remain about the same. But there are still 60 percent of U.S. healthcare facilities that haven’t made the leap to 64-slice parenthood. So there’s still a lot of learning to come.

This month, we dive into MDCT in both our cover story focused on cardiac imaging, "Multidetector CT: The Heart of Cardiac Imaging," and a summary of the CT offerings featured at RSNA 2006.

So whether you’re a new or seasoned parent, we all know, the learning continues. From stage to stage, one thing we’re guaranteed of is change.