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Most of us at some point have had an X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound, and unless you’re a trained technician, you can probably only make out the bares bones (ha!) when you look at them. I’ve watched enough medical dramas to know that all of those little dots and blobs mean something to doctors, even though they look like smudges to me. But now there’s a new kind of CT scanner that produces 3D images of your insides in the time it takes for your heart to beat once.
3D imaging and CT scans aren’t new, but the concept behind GE Healthcare’s new Revolution CT is. Much like shutter speed on a camera helps you take awesome photos of fast-moving objects. In the past, the biggest challenge of CT scans was patient movement distorting the images, especially when the patients are kids who are physiologically unable to stay still. The new scanner works so quickly that even if patients squirm around it produces crystal clear 3D images. Revolution rotates so quickly around the subject that it can catch the heart in the middle of a beat.
GE is quick to point out that the scanner can’t get images of the entire body in that minute amount of time, but it can get images of specific organs that quickly. The quality is amazing, they look as much like art as science (for more images, check out GE’s image gallery). The resolution will help doctors see problems that are often difficult to detect by sight, such as arterial clogs and the exact amount a tumor has grown or shrunk. Getting a CT scan like this beats exploratory surgery and stands to improve diagnosis and treatment. Revolution isn’t available yet, but pending FDA approval, I’m guessing we’ll see these machines in hospitals in the very near future. And here I always thought the best way to see our insides was to fly over the bar on a swing set.