Eastern Health has installed new digital radiography units at its hospitals in both Burin and Clarenville.
The province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Eastern Health specifically, are the first in the Canada to receive these next-generation digital radiography units. In a news release, the regional health authority said this represents a significant step forward in X-ray technology.
The new units were launched in Burin and Clarenville on June 14 and June 24, respectively, and will be used for all X-ray procedures. Each unit consists of an X-ray machine, a patient table and a high definition digital wireless detector, at a cost of $395,000 per unit.
“The high definition digital wireless detector, in particular, is brand new technology, having just received approval by Health Canada this past September,” said Ken Baird, vice president with responsibility for the medical imaging program, in the release. “Placing this technology at our sites in Burin and Clarenville is very much in keeping with Eastern Health’s renewed focus on primary health-care services throughout the eastern region.”
The high definition digital wireless detector provides an image that is four times higher in definition than previous detectors. This will enable a more accurate diagnosis and, consequently, more appropriate care. It allows for a 40 per cent improvement in detectability, particularly when it comes to subtle fractures and small lung lesions.
The detector also employs a lower dose of radiation than was used in the system previously in place.
The patient table, used when patients are required to lie down during a procedure, can accommodate bariatric patients weighing up to 882 pounds, compared to the previous limit of 350 pounds.
The medical imaging program in Clarenville performed close to 13,000 X-ray procedures in the past year, while the Burin site performed just over 11,500.
“These start-of-the-art radiography units will mean better access to quality patient care at our regional sites, and enhance one of the most important diagnostic tools in primary health care,” said Dr. Angela Pickles, chief radiologist with medical imaging. “To use an analogy, it’s similar to the difference between a standard flat screen TV and a high definition TV. The more accurate the X-ray image is, the more specific the treatment will be – both of which result in better outcomes for our patients.”
A third digital radiography unit will be installed at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital in St. John’s, in the fall of 2019, as part of Eastern Health’s regular equipment replacement program, through annual funding from the provincial government.