Our leading-edge medical imaging boosts your doctor’s
ability to find and treat your ailments
Prostate and Cardiac Imaging:
MRI Steps In
Ultrasound has long been the standard imaging technique used to image the prostate. This exam is invasive and uncomfortable for the patient. In addition, the detail provided by this imaging method is limited. That’s changing, thanks to the use of MRI for prostate imaging. “With MRI, you’re able to see the entire gland and you get more detail, so you’re able to see where the tumor is,” says Brenda Rinehart, director of Medical Imaging.
In addition, with our new MRI imaging, it is completely noninvasive. “I think it’s a better test,” says John Clemett, MD, a radiologist with Overlake. “The patient is more comfortable during the examination. And we’re doing the images on a very high-strength 3 Tesla magnet [the new standard in medical imaging], so we have very good images.”
While MRI is useful for prostate cancer treatment planning, it can also be used for screening in men who have rising PSA levels, which may indicate a prostate condition, including cancer.
Imaging of the heart has also increased over the past 10 years in keeping with technological advances. Cardiovascular problems such as valve abnormalities, congenital heart disease, ischemia and cardiomyopathy are examples of the disease processes that cardiac MRI visualizes exceptionally well. MRI is noninvasive and does not require exposure to radiation, which is important to patients and physicians. MRI images of the heart are generally better than images obtained from other methods, and the high resolution available on today’s scanners makes MRI an invaluable tool in early diagnosis and evaluation. We recommend contacting your insurance company in advance to determine if your policy covers this procedure.
Thirty years ago, there was no such thing as an MRI, and CT scans took a long time to perform and delivered a higher dose of radiation than current technology.
What a different world we live in today. The staff at Overlake Medical Center uses state-of-the-art medical imaging equipment that produces crisper, more detailed images than ever before, and doctors can even view live images of the body’s interior anatomy, like blood flowing through organs. “In my years at Overlake, I have watched the field of radiology expand in ways I would never have imagined,” says Bryan Leyton, MD, a radiologist at Overlake. “New technologies have provided us with ways to image patients and identify disease like never before.” Today’s superior images help your doctors render more accurate diagnoses and devise more effective treatment plans. Five of these newest imaging capabilities are discussed below.
Amyvid PET Scan: In Search of Alzheimer’s
The specter of Alzheimer’s disease haunts many of us as we age: Will it strike you or a loved one? Truth is, as many as one in five patients who has been diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s disease during his or her life didn’t actually have the disease. Remarkably, that’s something we’ve only been able to confirm through brain examinations in autopsies.
But in April, the FDA approved the first and only radioactive diagnostic agent (amyvid) that can be used with PET scans to reveal the likelihood of Alzheimer’s in the living brain. This is done by imaging the amyloid neuritic plaques, which are a protein found in people with Alzheimer’s. According to Harold Prow, MD, a neuroradiologist at Overlake, an amyvid scan showing moderate to frequent amyloid plaques increases the likelihood that a patient’s cognitive problems are due to Alzheimer’s disease. “There’s no other imaging out there right now that estimates amyloid plaque in the living brain,” says Mary Laplante, lead PET CT technologist at Overlake, which offers amyloid scans.
“I have watched the field of radiology expand. New technologies have provided
us with ways to image patients and
diseases like never before.”
“My stepdad has Alzheimer’s, and it can be a year or two from the cognitive testing to the confirmation of the diagnosis because it starts with just forgetting little things before it becomes full-blown Alzheimer’s,” says Merritt Nelson, RDMS, RV, supervisor of ultrasound and nuclear medicine at Overlake. “As a loved one and caretaker, you’re trying to read into every cognitive symptom, so if we had a test like this available 10 years ago, it would have been a real game changer as far as helping to plan ahead and find peace of mind about what we were facing for my stepdad’s future.”
Ultrasound: Going 3-D
At one point, you may have had a standard ultrasound exam, which uses high-frequency sound waves to create two-dimensional images. But now, the team at Overlake is using 3-D ultrasound, which provides more accurate diagnosis and treatment and is faster than traditional ultrasound.
First, the sonographer moves the ultrasound transducer over the patient’s skin as it collects about 100 different scans of that particular area of the patient’s body. The collected data is built up like pages in a book, creating information that looks like a pyramid with its top slightly flattened. The doctor can then reslice and reconstruct these images and view them in different ways to get a good look at the patient’s interior anatomy from nearly any perspective. “As somebody who’s performed and interpreted thousands of ultrasounds over the last 20 years, I am still taken aback by the ability of our 3-D ultrasound technology to let us see the processes of disease with such physical structural detail,” explains Phillip Lowe, MD, also a radiologist at Overlake. “This technology allows physicians to diagnose and treat patients like never before without the use of radiation. We are on the forefront with the equipment we have and what we can do with it.”
Ahead in Spotting Alzheimer’s
Overlake’s new amyvid PET scan, the first and only of its type to win FDA approval, can help doctors estimate certain plaques found in the living brains of people with Alzheimer’s—which may be a game changer in the diagnosis of this debilitating disease.
Thanks to advances in computer and microprocessor technology, those 3-D images can now be viewed in motion, called 4-D ultrasound. “You can see unborn babies move in real time,” Nelson says. “You can see their fingers move. We can look at blood flow to see how much of a vessel is being obstructed.”
Fusion Imaging: Better Together
Imagine being able to weave together images of different types—ultrasound, CT, MRI, PET—and get the benefits of viewing them all at once. Doctors at Overlake don’t have to imagine because the hospital’s new GE Logiq E9 ultrasound equipment does just that.
“Our new GE equipment has a capability called fusion imaging, where we can load a previous CT, MRI or PET scan with a real-time scan of the patient and sync those two images together,” Nelson explains. “You can lay the images on top of each other, and when I move the ultrasound transducer on the patient, the CT images move with the ultrasound. If I’m going toward the top of the kidney, the CT images also move to the top of the kidney. Ultrasound captures pictures differently than CT, which visualizes differently than MRI, and if you can compare more of those at once, there are more sets of ‘eyes,’ which provides more accurate diagnosis.”
Sodium Fluoride Scan: Focusing on Bone Cancer
The standard method for checking whether cancer has metastasized to bone is doing a whole-body bone scan, which produces a 2-D image, but that test can sometimes miss metastases or “mets.”
Enter the sodium fluoride bone scan, which produces a clearer, 3-D image of the bone. “It uses an isotope called sodium fluoride that binds much better to the bone,” says Laplante. “It’s more sensitive and specific than a body scan, and it’s faster too.” From injection to scan takes 90 minutes, compared with two to three hours for a body scan.
While most healthcare plans don’t cover the procedure, it is covered by the National Oncology PET Registry, so patients with a cancer diagnosis who have Medicare Part B should ask for this scan in place of the whole-body bone scan.
“Overlake Medical Center’s ongoing commitment to invest in this and other advanced medical imaging technology has a clear payoff for you and your doctors,” says Brenda Rinehart, director of Medical Imaging. “We’ve taken vital steps to maintain and improve health in the Eastside community and beyond, now and for generations to come.”