UNM Hospital has become one of only a handful of hospitals in the nation to receive a portable computerized tomography (CT) scanner a technology that promises to revolutionize the way Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients receive treatment, according to Howard Yonas, Chair for Department of Neurosurgery, who helped to develop the equipment.

Time is of the essence in the Neurosciences ICU when treating patients with head trauma, yet many of them are too fragile to be moved out of the unit for testing, said Yonas.

"Until now, there have been times when it was impossible to tell what was going on with some of our patients," said Yonas. "Many are simply too fragile to move out of the ICU. Patients can have up to 20 different monitors and leads attached to them and studies have shown that there is a one in five chance of a patient suffering complications when moved out of an ICU for testing. In addition, it can take up to four staff people to safely move a person out of the ICU and that is taking four highly trained people away from other patients

The new, battery operated equipment makes three dimensional images of the neck and head. It essentially reduces the size of a CT scanner down to a table top so that physicians can safety scan the brain at bedside and provide a real-time analysis. It can also be moved into OR and procedure rooms to provide scans during surgery.

Cost of the machine was about $200,000 compared to the more than $1-million that a conventional CT scanner can cost. It is expected that as these types of machines become more common, they will be used throughout hospitals and even in ambulances for diagnosis.

UNM was the tenth hospital nationally to receive one of the machines. It will become the first hospital nationally to use the CT in conjunction with xenon technology to measure bloodflow in the brain at bedside and in the operating room.


Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322