Kurth Imaging Center is a full scale imaging center servicing those staying in patient rooms, coming into the Emergency Department and needing outpatient imaging at CHI St. Luke's Health-Memorial Lufkin.
Kurth Imaging Center’s up-to-date technology and equipment include Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), CT (Computed Tomography), 4D Ultrasound, Digital Mammography, Nuclear Medicine and Diagnostic Radiography (X-ray and Fluoroscopy).
Kurth Imaging Center is an all digital, film-less imaging center, utilizing the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) to deliver images for interpretation and storage.
Scheduling and admission is easy. For outpatient studies, you or your physician can schedule your appointment. Either fax your physician orders prior to exam day or bring them with you when you register. The admissions desk is located in the main lobby of the hospital. Check in with your name and you may be asked to wait momentarily until the next registration clerk is available. After signing all applicable forms, a guest services representative will escort you to the imaging department.
Patients who are temporarily staying at CHI St. Luke's Health-Memorial Lufkin may be brought to the department from their room. However, some equipment, such as ultrasound and x-ray, is mobile and exams can be performed in the patient rooms if needed.
Imaging services, such as CT and mobile x-ray and ultrasound, are also located within the Emergency Department. These modalities along with MRI have technologists readily available in the event of an emergency.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to align the hydrogen atoms in the body to see internal organ and tissue images without the use of radiation. These images show the difference between normal and diseased tissue enabling physicians to diagnose abnormalities.
MRI is a valuable tool to diagnosis conditions in the body including cancer, heart and vascular disease, stroke, breast disease, and joint and musculoskeletal disorders. Physicians use MRI scans to define anatomy and evaluate abnormalities related to head trauma, brain aneurysms and tumors, spinal cord trauma, glands and organs within the abdomen, and the structure of joints, soft tissues and bones.
Patients with a pacemaker, aneurysm clips or metal implants cannot be scanned due to the strong magnetic pull associated with the MRI. Some patients may experience claustrophobic feelings when their head is positioned inside the MRI bore. If you experience claustrophobia, please consult your physician prior to your exam date about taking a mild sedative.
You may be a candidate for anesthesia, should you not respond well to sedatives, be unable to lie still for 30 minutes or longer due to pain or be a pediatric patient. Consult your physician to make arrangements when scheduling your appointment. An Anesthesiologist must be scheduled in conjunction with the MRI appointment.
Computed Tomography (CT)
CT captures precise images of any area of the body. While CT uses X-ray technology, it is distinguished from other diagnostic imaging tools like traditional X-ray and MRI by its ability to display a combination of soft tissue (like muscles, tissue, organs and fat), bones and blood vessels all in a single image. Clinicians perform CT scans to diagnose kidney, lung, liver, spine, blood diseases, cancer, tumors and cysts, as well as blood clots, hemorrhages and infections.
Toshiba’s multi-slice technology captures precise images of the body’s rapidly moving organs like the heart and lungs, which appear blurry when scanned by a traditional CT. Multi-slice imaging also is especially useful for examining patients who are unable to hold their breath, like trauma victims, acutely ill patients and young children.
The fast scanning capabilities and unmatched image quality offer significant benefits for a quick and accurate diagnosis of trauma patients experiencing chest pain or stroke. Additionally, chest exams, which take 20-30 minutes with a standard CT scanner, can now be performed in just 19 seconds with images that allow physicians to see internal injuries and disease in greater detail than ever before.
CHI St. Luke's Health-Memorial is one of a handful of U.S. healthcare facilities to offer a powerful new tool for diagnosing coronary artery disease without penetrating the skin.
The five-minute test – called calcium scoring – uses computed tomography (CT) scans (or CAT scans) to look for calcium deposits in the coronary arteries. Calcium is a component of arterial plaque, the fatty buildup that causes atherosclerosis by sticking to artery walls. When this plaque constricts blood flow it can lead to heart attacks. When it breaks loose and lodges elsewhere, it can trigger a stroke.
CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial and Kurth Imaging Center clinicians are using the technique to measure the levels of calcium in a patient’s arteries – the measurement is called a “calcium score.” A low calcium score indicates little risk of heart attack. A high score can be lifesaving by alerting cardiologists to the presence of heart disease and the need for further investigation.
The heart moves so quickly that it blurs images taken with traditional CTs. However, the technology at CHI St. Luke's Health-Memorial can scan the entire heart in 10 seconds, giving radiologists and cardiologists clear pictures of the heart and its vessels in between beats. The calcium score is then determined with the use of specialized computer software.
The CT's detector features a highly efficient ceramic material that is able to reduce the overall radiation exposure to patients, as well as to hospital staff. The system’s dose control features provide up to a 40 percent total dose reduction for the patient to make exams as safe and comfortable as possible. The system also accommodates the scanning of both larger and taller patients with the ability to expand its field-of-view to accommodate specific patient sizes and clinical needs.
4D (or, real-time 3D) imaging technology allows patients to view a fetus and internal organs as if they were being held in the hands. Extraordinarily fast image acquisition and image processing allow true, instantaneous, real-time 4D imaging. The system’s powerful imaging capabilities support a variety of common exams, including vascular, thyroid, and testicular exams. It also offers advanced imaging capabilities specifically beneficial in the evaluation of breast masses.
The ultrasound system used at CHI St. Luke's Health-Memorial has the potential to:
- Make ultrasound exams much faster
- Help patients and their physician better visualize and understand their condition
- Help identify the nature of suspicious breast lesions sooner utilizing new, higher resolution, higher frequency transducers
- Enhance diagnostic capability, thus reducing or eliminating the need for more expensive or invasive tests and procedures
- Provide clearer ultrasound images, especially in difficult-to-image patients
- Guide catheters and needles in 3D space without radiation exposure
Because it can be used in the most delicate conditions without major side effects, ultrasound has become one of the most popular diagnostic methods among both patients and physicians. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce moving images of the body’s internal soft tissue structures. It provides a safe, fast and relatively painless means of diagnostic imaging on an outpatient basis.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.®, breast cancer incidence in women has increased from 1 in 20 in 1960 to 1 in 8 today. If detected early, the five-year survival rate for this disease exceeds 95%.
MAMMOMAT NovationDR enables physicians and clinicians to better pinpoint disease and plan treatment. The system also meets the demands of modern mammography practices like CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial by providing digital screening, diagnosis, and stereotactic biopsy capabilities—all in one system.
At 24 by 29 centimeters, the size of the MAMMOMAT NovationDR image detector allows imaging of a wider range of patient breast sizes, and its new paddle design provides easier and more comfortable patient positioning. The system enables a direct conversion of X-ray to digital information and features MammoReportPlus, a multi-modality workstation for mammography with the ability to accept Computer Assisted Diagnosis (CAD) markers from approved vendors—which helps increase cancer detection rates. MammoReportPlus provides ultra-fast, high-volume mammogram reading, permitting users to switch between eight-view mammographic studies in less than one second—improving workflow in the process.
A Nuclear Medicine exam is a diagnostic procedure that uses a radioactive tracer substance and a special camera to image body and organ anatomy and function non-invasively. Tumors, infection and other disorders can be detected by evaluating organ function. Nuclear Medicine is used to:
- Analyze kidney function
- Image blood flow and function of the heart
- Scan lungs for respiratory and blood-flow problems
- Identify blockage of the gallbladder
- Evaluate bones for fracture, infection, arthritis or tumor
- Determine the presence or spread of cancer
- Identify bleeding into the bowel
- Locate the presence of infection
- Measure thyroid function to detect an overactive or underactive thyroid
Nuclear Medicine has become a very popular method of diagnosing and following coronary artery disease without the risk involved with cardiac catheterization. Nuclear medicine is the primary way metastatic bone disease is diagnosed.
Some scans require certain preparations prior to the appointment. Procedures involving evaluation of the stomach require the patient to arrive at the appointment with an empty stomach (NPO). Another procedure evaluating the kidneys requires the patient to drink plenty of water before the test. Your physician or the imaging center staff can give you preparation instructions for your exam.
Diagnostic Radiology – X-ray
Diagnostic radiography, also known simply as x-ray, is the oldest, most frequently used form of medical imaging. It is widely used to identify healthy and abnormal conditions in the body. X-ray imaging is fast, easy and painless. It is useful in the diagnosis and treatment of bony and soft tissue injuries, infections, and fractures. Common x-ray exams are:
- Bone fracture, healing process or changes in bones
- Joint dislocation, fluid build up
- Injury or damage from infection, arthritis, abnormal bone growths or bone disease
- Chest to evaluate lungs, heart and chest wall
- Assist in detection and diagnosis of cancer
- Locate foreign object
Diagnostic Radiology – Fluoroscopy
Fluoroscopy uses a continuous x-ray beam to create a sequence of images that are digitally transmitted to a high-resolution TV monitor. The body part and its motion can be seen in “real time” detail.
Fluoroscopy enables physicians to look at many body systems, including the skeletal, digestive, urinary, respiratory, and reproductive systems. Fluoroscopy is used to evaluate specific areas of the body, including the bones, muscles and joints, as well as solid organs such as the heart, lung or kidneys. Examinations and procedures that use fluoroscopy along with preparations are:
- Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP) - You may be asked to take a mild laxative (in either pill or liquid form) the evening before the procedure. Drink extra fluids until midnight. Nothing to eat or drink from midnight until after test completed.
- Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract series, Barium Swallow - You may be asked to take a mild laxative (in either pill or liquid form) the evening before the procedure. After midnight, you should not eat or drink anything.
- Lower Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract series, Barium Enema - You may be asked to take a mild laxative (in either pill or liquid form) and to use an over-the-counter enema preparation kit the evening before the exam and possibly a few hours before the procedure. Only clear liquids should be taken on the day before. After midnight, you should not eat or drink anything.
- Small Bowel series - You may be asked to take a mild laxative (in either pill or liquid form) the evening before the procedure. After midnight, you should not eat or drink anything.
- Arthrogram - Nothing to eat or drink for four hours prior to exam.
- Voiding Cystogram- There is no preparation for this exam.
- Hysterosalpingogram - There is no preparation for this exam.
- Myelogram - Do not eat or drink for 8 hours before you have this test. You may need to take a laxative or have an enema before the test to empty your bowels.
- Arteriogram - Food and fluid are restricted 6 to 8 hours before the test.
Always consult your physician on the detailed instructions to prepare for a test. Inform your physician of any medications you are taking and any allergies, especially to contrast materials. Some medications may be taken prior to an exam and others may negatively interact with your results.
Diagnostic radiography does involve some exposure to radiation. However, special care is taken during the exam to minimize exposure and maximize safety for the patient by using lead aprons or shields to block radiation when needed during the exam. The radiation dose for diagnostic radiography is about the same as the average person receives from everyday background radiation in about 10 days.