Lee Health Coconut Point offers cutting-edge diagnostic technology.
By Cheryl Mandell
CT Scanner is delivered to its new home at Lee Health Coconut Point
Lee Health has recently rolled out a new innovation and it just might save your life. This new, top-of-the-line Siemens CT scan machine is now located within the Imaging Services wing of Lee Health Coconut Point. A typical cardiac computed tomography (CT) scan uses many X-rays from different angles to construct images of the heart using a scanner and computer. CT scans are an effective tool for detecting heart issues, including coronary artery disease, heart valve problems, blockages, calcium scoring and more.
One of the things that makes this CT scanner different is the speed. The new scanner allows faster image acquisition, translating to better and more accurate diagnoses down to the cubic millimeter. The blockage type can even be identified, another facet of this new technology. The scanner gives you a full, 3D map of each artery, and since it can take such fast photos, a patient typically does not need medically-induced slowing of the heart rate, which is required for other CT scanners. This process is time consuming and, up until now, was only performed in hospitals.
A fast scanner takes 128 slices, or photos, and they are put together to give healthcare professionals one big picture. This new machine is dual-source, which means it takes double the photos, or 256 slices. It’s comparable to two machines working together at once.
“It’s a huge step forward,” said Joe Ryan, PT, DPT, MBA, system director at Lee Health Coconut Point. “I cannot overstate how important this is to us at Lee Health and the community,”
The main reason for Lee Health making such a large investment is to improve cardiac imaging capabilities for the citizens of south Lee County. Another important reason for this technology upgrade is so these vital procedures can now be performed in an outpatient setting, offering convenience and efficiency for patients while alleviating demand at local hospitals.
Currently, the only other CT scanner of this caliber within the Lee Health network is at the Heart Institute at HealthPark Medical Center in Fort Myers.
“We are excited to offer a more precise and efficient path to evaluate chest pain and coronary artery disease with coronary CT with this high-end scanner,” said Dr. Juan C. Lopez Mattei, of the Lee Health Heart and Vascular Institute. “This CT scanner will help get high-quality images that will allow us to provide accurate information to our cardiologists. Faster imaging, relaxing color lighting and better-quality images help us provide better patient care and experience.”
Dr. Priyanka Handa, of Florida Radiology Consultants, is one of the radiologists at LHCP who reads the scans. “You’re getting less dose (of radiation) for very, very acceptable image quality that’s interpreted for any body part, from head to toe,” said.
The machine officially went live with real patients on Sept. 18. Siemens, the manufacturer, brought their applications specialists on site for the first week to provide hands-on training to staff.
The software operates on the same platform as the other CT scanner but with extra features and upgrades.
“The new scanner has what’s called ‘fast 3D,’ so when the patient is on the table, it will find the iso-center and actually suggest the protocol that should be used,” said Kayla Kozi, manager of Imaging Services for LHCP.
People over age 45 on the Lee Health insurance plan who have two or more risk factors (including obesity, family history and high blood pressure), qualify for the scan at no cost. In a short time, this machine has picked up heart disease among Lee Health employees who were not displaying outward symptoms. This enables doctors to change the trajectory of patients’ health history, preventing future complications.
“Cardiac CT scans can identify very early plaque not seen by other tests–stress tests, nuclear scans and often even heart catheterization. This early identification can lead to lifestyle and medication changes that are proven to reduce the risk of future heart attacks,” said Dr. Richard A. Chazal, medical director of the Lee Health Heart and Vascular Institute and past president of the American College of Cardiology.
The Lee Health Heart Institute is the largest heart program in Southwest Florida and has a long history of excellence in cardiac care. Specializing in everything from routine to complex care, the institute includes primary and specialty care, advanced cardiac imaging, nationally ranked hospitals, Shipley Cardiothoracic Center, cardiac rehabilitation and more. HealthPark Medical Center has been named a 2023 PINC AI 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospital winner by Premier. This marks the 10th year the hospital has won the award.
“Out of the whole county, we decided we wanted to put this in Estero,” said Ryan. “That tells you something.”
Entrance to Lee Health Coconut Point Imaging Services wing