St George Private Hospital will open a new catheter laboratory later this year – which will come as a boost for cardiology patients.
The cath lab, expected to open in May, will be used for stent procedures and similar treatments, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Among the bells and whistles in the new lab will be a Toshiba Dose Tracking System (DTS). The private hospital was the first in the world to install the system back in 2013, and has decided to include the same technology in its new facility.
St George Private Hospital director of cardiac services Dr James Weaver said it had reduced patients’ exposure to radiation significantly.
The system basically allows practitioners to keep an eye on the level of radiation a patient is exposed to.
Patients are exposed to radiation levels during diagnosis and also during some procedures. Dr Weaver said the system shows a map of the body and uses colours to highlight how much radiation the patient was exposed to.
“It makes visible that invisible radiation,” Dr Weaver said.
“And helps us continue with best practice for our patients.
“The strength of this tool is the colour imaging. Rather than just a number, it is that colour reminding us, and when it goes red we know we should be concerned and adapt our behaviour.”
Interestingly, he said medical professionals around the world were still learning whether low levels of radiation had any negative affects on patients, such as links to cancer.
“We still don’t know exactly how much risk, if any, radiation places on patients,” Dr Weaver said.
“What we know is that high doses of radiation exposure – for example the Chernobyl disaster – those sorts of levels are related to cancer.
“But these lower levels, there could be a risk but if there is a threshold we don’t really know what it is. Those studies are on going.”
He said the important thing was being sensible and careful, and reducing radiation levels where possible.
Dr Weaver said since the first commercial DTS was installed at St George Private in 2013, other hospitals around the world had also started using the technology including St George Public Hospital.