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The Latest Technologies for Diagnosis & Treatment

The New 64-Slice CT Scanner

St. Joseph Hospital Diagnostic Imaging introduces the "Cadillac" of CT Scanners - delivering head-to-toe 3D imaging in less than 60 seconds. Our new CT Scanner will better assist physicians in early diagnosis and treatment by offering a clearer anatomical visualization and improved soft tissue evaluation. This means a more comprehensive diagnosis in less time - and with greater patient comfort. We at St. Joseph Hospital are pleased to be the first to offer this leading technology on the north coast.

The Power of PET

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a non-invasive nuclear medicine scanning procedure which uses positron emitting radioactive isotopes to show three-dimensional functional images, reflecting an organ’s metabolism rather than just its anatomy, as in conventional scanning techniques. PET is used to diagnose and monitor cancer, in addition to diseases of the heart, brain, and lungs. PET allows for the diagnosis of cancer and other diseases in their early stages, yielding better patient outcomes.

PET/CT - the all-in-one full body scan

The newest diagnostic system for detecting cancer at St. Joseph Hospital is called a PET/CT Scan -- the only one of its kind in Humboldt County. It is a combination of Positron Emission Tomography (PET), which detects cellular activity, and Computerized Tomography (CT), which reveals a cross-section of body tissues and organs. In the past, difficulties arose from trying to interpret the results of a CT scan done separately from a PET scan, due to the fact that the patient's body position had changed. By combining these technologies into a single device, the PET/CT Scanner makes it possible to collect both anatomical and biological or metabolic information at the same time -- during a single examination. This provides physicians a much more complete and clearer picture of what is happening in the body. This integrated information permits accurate tumor detection and localization for a variety of cancers, including breast, esophageal, cervical, melanoma, lymphoma, lung, colorectal, head and neck, and ovarian cancer. With the help of a PET/CT scan, physicians can now detect cancers, as well as some heart disease and brain disorders, at a much earlier stage.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Our Vantage MRI by Toshiba combines a compact magnet with noise-reduction technology and ergonomic design to produce superior image quality with greater patient comfort, allowing the patient's head to remain outside the tube for most procedures. A new MRI technique called Parallel Imaging, along with Toshiba's patented speeder coil technology, allows the Vantage to capture images in a fraction of the time required by older machines. The faster scans mean less chance of blurring from patient movement, less repositioning during the procedure and less time in the exam room. The Vantage also packs a full 1.5-Tesla field strength -- roughly double the magnetic strength of most 'open' MRI machines -- providing the top quality images needed for the most accurate diagnosis possible. Because of its ability to image soft tissue, MRI plays a critical role in diagnosing cancer. It can reveal the shape, size and location of tumors, and it is used to monitor tumor growth, including malignant and non-malignant tumors in the brain. MRI is even used to augment mammography tests for breast cancer.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

This newer type of radiation therapy means higher cure rates and fewer side effects through more exact and focused treatment. "Very simply, IMRT is a major breakthrough in the practice of Radiation Oncology," said Dr. Michael Harmon, Oncology physician at the St. Joseph Hospital Cancer Center. "It allows for pinpoint accuracy in targeting tumors, while at the same time greatly reducing the radiation dose to healthy vital tissues." The new IMRT technology has already contributed to substantially improved clinical outcomes in prostate cancer, according to studies in the Journal of Radiation, Oncology, Biology and Physics.

High Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR)

High dose rate brachytherapy is a form of radiotherapy commonly used to treat gynecologic cancers. For selected cases of breast cancer, the MammoSite catheter is used for treatment and therapy can be completed in just one week.

Prostate Seed Implant Program

Through the development of the Prostate Seed Implant Program, a new option in prostate cancer treatment is now available and is considered an alternative to radical surgery or conventional radiation treatments. This technique essentially treats the prostate from the inside out rather than from the outside in. Decreased radiation doses to the surrounding normal tissues may decrease both the short term and long term side effects.

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