Looking Into Your Heart

1 decade 9 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, August 02 2007 Aug 2, 2007 Thursday, August 02, 2007 1:59:17 PM CDT August 02, 2007 in News

A new computed tomography, or CT, scanner is able to take a complete 3D profile of the heart within the time it takes the heart to beat only five or six times. There's no blurring; pictures are crystal clear because the scanner rapidly produces multiple images by freezing the motion of the heart. Experts say the technology is going to get even faster.

"The hope is we could eventually scan the whole heart in a single heartbeat," said cardiologist Dr. Sheldon Litwin.

Litwin says the fast-moving scanner not only identifies patients with heart disease, but can determine those who don't have it. The CT scan could be performed instead of a diagnostic invasive procedure.

"We can potentially put them into the scanner," said Litwin. "If it's negative they may be able to be discharged immediately. So, this can take what was a 24-hour stay in the ER or hospital down to one hour."

In the scan, two X-ray sources come from different angles to multiple detectors--all moving very fast--at about 3 complete revolutions per second. The G-forces that are created are comparable to what is achieved in a fighter jet when it's flying. Patients resting comfortably in the middle of the scanner don't feel those forces.

"I would say, for me, the speed of my life changed in a heartbeat," said Carolyn Larrivee, patient. "It's an IV, it's some dye, and you instantly know what you have."

Like with other patients, Dr. Litwin rotated and tracked the vessels in Larrivee's heart with a computer. A bright spot on a patient's picture would identify a blockage.

Another advantage to this new technology: because of its speed, the scanner also exposes patients to less radiation.

Reported by NBC's Ed Yeates.

New Technology Treats Tumors

Women who have uterine fibroid tumors can suffer from severe pain and bloating. A new study from the Mayo Clinic highlights a non-invasive way of treating the tumors and their symptoms.

It's called magnetic resonance imaging guided focused ultrasound surgery, a long name that researchers say gives long-lasting results. The procedure uses high-energy sound waves that travel through the abdominal wall, targeting the fibroids.

Booze Risky For Bowels

Even moderate alcohol consumption could raise the risk for bowel cancer.

A new study from Europe says moderate alcohol use could increase the risk for bowel cancer by 10 percent.

Researchers surveyed at more than 475 thousand people about their drinking habits. In the study, drinking about 4 large glasses of beer a day caused a 25 percent increase in risk.

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