New Scanner Will Help Heart Patients

This image is part of the new G.E. Light Speed Volume Computed Tomography, or VCT. So why the big deal?  Dr. Kevin Sublett is a cardiologist at Russell Medical Center In alexander City.

He says, "Probably the biggest advantage is that this allows us to do non-invasive work."

That means no catheters or complications from stroke. These pictures allow a precise, clear 3-d image which can detect blockages even in small vessels.  Sublett says,  "It does allow us to assess the heart muscle function and it allows us to see the heart valves."

It can also aid in the detection of congenital disease.

I volunteered to be the guinea pig and blood was drawn to make sure the kidneys were working properly to get rid of the dye that will be used.   Then I'm told my heart rate is too rapid.

We're going to give you some medicine to slow your heart rate down, so we can complete the scan says the cardiologist.

And once those meds kicked in the heart rate dropped, I was taken into the room with the scanner, which looks like a big donut.   Soon the scan begins. Pictures are taken around the body to get images from every angle. The preparation time actually takes longer than the scan.

The scan itself really wasn't that bad, it only lasts a few seconds. The one thing you will feel is the dye. The dye will feel like it's hot going in the arm ... You can even feel it in your bladder.

So how did it go?  The images tell the story.

Dr. Sublett says,  "Well your heart does not appear to be enlarged. That's a good sign. It does not appear to be thickened."

And there are no blockages. Hopefully a good sign for a healthy future.

Right now insurance is not paying for the new scan, but doctors are hopeful that will change after the first of the year. The cost? between $1-thousand and $12 hundred dollars.