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3D Imaging Providing Less Radiation, Better Reads, Enhanced Experience  

As a Radiologic Technologist for more than 14 years, I am excited by the pace at which technology and innovation in health care is moving. One of those state-of-the-art innovations in the world of orthopedic imaging is the CBCT (Cone Beam Computed Tomography) Extremity System. This technology allows orthopedic surgeons to get a 3D image of knees, arms, hands and feet at the point of care, allowing for diagnosis and treatment planning in one visit.   

As a technologist, I can appreciate all the advantages that this machine provides. With this technology, we can produce state-of-the-art imaging for patients using advanced scatter and metal correction features, producing enhanced visibility of a patient’s anatomy near metal components. Soft tissue reconstructions allow our physicians to visualize ligaments and tendons. We can provide patients quicker scan times, reduced radiation and the ability to perform lower extremity exams while bearing weight.  

This is CT technology with the advantage of having patients bear weight. Viewing studies with the patient under normal load bearing conditions allows surgeons to see the nature of the injury as it appears when the patient is actually using the body part.  With this tool, the surgeon will be able to diagnose the extent of the injury’s scope and how to treat it. 

Traditionally, surgeons rely heavily on scans before and after surgery. When it comes to surgery, the aim is to restore a patient’s alignment in a functional position – while standing upright. This is a revolutionary advance in how patients are imaged before surgical procedures. Post-surgical evaluation of the affected extremities is also very important. The metal correction feature allows the technologist to effectively blur out the metal, reducing what we call “metal artifact.” Metal artifact reduces visibility of the body part being examined allowing the surgeon to evaluate patient anatomy without the distracting influences of metal implants. 

Traditionally, patients would be scanned while laying down. This new type of CT scanner creates 2D and 3D cross sectional imaging along with a custom 3D image that surgeons can rotate from various angles, through a 25-second scan of the patient, as they stand – a critical component.  

In addition, radiation exposure from the 3D scan is “low-dose.”  As technology improves, so does the number of exams that are ordered. This CT machine creates an environment of only imaging the affected body part, reducing the amount of radiation exposure to the patient.  

Northern Arizona Orthopaedics the only practice in the state, and one of few in the U.S., to have this type of 3D CT machine. The 3D X-ray imaging capabilities with the new CARESTREAM OnSight 3D Extremity System uses cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) to capture 2D or 3D cross-sectional images of bone or soft tissue. As a radiologic technologist, I appreciate that it provides the advantages of high-resolution, 3D X-ray images at a relatively low-radiation dose for patients.       

This revolutionary CT scanner at NAO has many benefits, some of which are:  

  • The high-resolution 3D images reveal subtle, difficult-to-detect fractures. 
  • Weight-bearing exams allow viewing of lower extremities under natural load. 
  • Greater patient comfort and convenience, with a wide door opening for easy, step-in access.    
  • A reduced -radiation dose compared to conventional CT systems. FBN  

 By Jarrett Andersen, R.T.  

Jarrett Andersen, R.T.( R ), is a Radiologic Technologist at Northern Arizona Orthopaedics, inside the Summit Center. He provides advanced imaging for patients visiting the NAO and Urgent Ortho. To learn more about other services offered at NAO, visit northAZortho.com or call 928-774-7757.  



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