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CHI Memorial Hospitals mobile lung
screening vehicle, which uses the Siemens
Healthineers SOMATOM Scope CT.

From the ambulance to Africa, imaging gets portable

by Lisa Chamoff , Contributing Reporter
From the April 2018 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

Since the University of Tennessee deployed a mobile stroke unit in 2016, it has seen some striking results.

In the first year of operation, it took only a median of 13 minutes from the time the mobile stroke unit staff arrived on the scene to the time Alteplase IV r-tPA was administered to patients with acute ischemic stroke. It took a median 3.5 minutes of this time to complete both a non-contrast head CT and a CT angiography of the head and neck with the Siemens Healthineers SOMATOM Scope CT scanner on board.

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“Hospitals can take up to 45 or 60 minutes before they’re able to treat patients with Alteplase,” says Dr. Anne Alexandrov, the chief nurse practitioner for the University of Tennessee’s mobile stroke unit. “By putting experts on board a mobile stroke unit equipped with an ultra-fast CT, you’re able to diagnose and treat right on the scene.”

Mobile stroke units are just one of the ways that imaging has been taken beyond the walls of the hospital. Aside from creative innovative transportation methods for taking bulky equipment out into the community, Siemens partnered with ambulance manufacturer Tri-Star to create a specially designed chassis that could handle the weight of the 16-slice SOMATOM Scope CT. Companies have made truly portable X-ray and ultrasound units that have traveled as far away as Africa or as close as a local 5K race.

There is also a movement to make low-dose CT scans for detecting lung cancer as common as mobile mammograms. Siemens Healthineers offers an RV-based system with the SOMATOM Scope, which is ideal for this setting because it uses much less electricity and requires less room for cooling, according to Mark Palacio, CT product manager at Siemens Healthineers.

Because this solution is based on a commercial RV unit, it is much easier to drive and park than a conventional tractor trailer, and the CT can be operated entirely from an onboard generator, so it is not necessary to connect to shoreline power, which may not always be available in remote locations.

“The people who need screening the most are probably not the ones who have access to health care providers or are going to access health care most frequently,” Palacio says.

Dr. Rob Headrick, who is leading the effort at CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to deploy the Siemens-designed mobile CT lung cancer screening coach, says the technology may be the least challenging aspect of the program, designed to catch lung cancer earlier and boost outcomes, with a five-year goal of screening 10,000 people.
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