UNITED KINGDOM – A revolutionary new imaging technology has arrived at John Radcliffe Hospital, which has been described as the most significant breakthrough in CT technology in more than a decade.

Siemens Healthineers’ NAEOTOM Alpha scanner combines CT with artificial intelligence to help identify patients at risk of heart attacks.

The new technology will aid research at Oxford’s Acute Vascular Imaging Centre while also assisting clinical services at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH).

The new technology is intended to aid OUH in optimizing diagnostic and treatment pathways, as well as to facilitate research at the Oxford Acute Vascular Imaging Centre (AVIC) in order to pave the way for photon-counting CT to be implemented across the NHS.

Optimizing diagnostics

The new system employs a novel detector material known as cadmium telluride crystals, which converts X-ray photons directly into electrical signals, improving imaging quality, thereby avoiding the information loss seen in conventional CT.

The clearer input signals provide radiologists with clearer results for diagnosis, allowing them to detect cardiac issues earlier and expose patients to less radiation.

The NAEOTOM Alpha can capture the coronary vessels despite the presence of calcium, which can degrade the image, and clearly assess whether obstructions are present.

Speaking of the breakthrough in medical imaging healthcare, Peter Harrison, managing director of Siemens Healthineers Great Britain & Ireland said: “We are proud to be the first to introduce the photon-counting CT to the market and pleased to see this technology arrive in the UK for the first time at the University of Oxford.

With its advanced visualization capabilities, the system will be central to studies striving to reduce the burden on the NHS and transform patient pathways.”

The photon-counting CT replaces an existing MRI at the University of Oxford’s AVIC, which previously required up to an hour to complete a single cardiac study.

Patient benefits

With the NAEOTOM Alpha taking only seconds to scan and visualizing an image in a heartbeat, clinicians expect to reduce overall scanning time of patients.

Clinicians anticipate that the use of photon-counting CT will reduce cardiac scanning time to a few minutes, allowing them to expand services to include vascular imaging for acute patients as well as the provision of a routine cardiac CT service.

The NAEOTOM Alpha allows for the visualization of coronary vessels by virtually removing the calcium, allowing for a clear assessment of whether obstructions exist, thereby avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations.

Professor Charalambos Antoniades, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Radcliffe Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford and director of the Oxford Acute Vascular Imaging Centre, explains how the new technology could revolutionize UK healthcare.

He said: “The photon-counting CT scanner from Siemens Healthineers is game changing for UK healthcare provision and will enable us to streamline our patient pathways. The NAEOTOM Alpha will act as a gatekeeper, reducing hospital admissions and scanning patients with symptoms of a heart attack before they are admitted.

We will be able to identify patients who can undergo medical therapy as an outpatient or send patients directly for revascularization procedures without the need for an invasive diagnostic angiogram, freeing up hospital beds and avoiding unnecessary hospitalization.”

The new technology is also set to bolster research efforts at the Oxford University. According to ongoing research at Oxford University’s Acute Vascular Imaging Centre, doctors will be able to see plaques on the heart during treatment for the first time.

This enables researchers to identify the plaques responsible for a heart attack and use this knowledge to identify vulnerable plaques in other patients before they rupture.

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