3-D Bi-Plane Enhances Diagnosis
When taking images of the tiny vessels in the brain, clarity and resolution are essential to understanding the structures being viewed. And that’s just what AAMC’s new digitized state-of-the-art bi-plane x-ray machine can do. The bi-plane can provide digital images that are three dimensional, giving physicians a valuable tool for diagnosis and treatment of a variety of neurological disorders.
The bi-plane has two x-ray tubes rather than the standard one, so that it creates two images simultaneously. By rotating one of the x-ray tubes 180 degrees, advanced computer technology can be used to create a three-dimensional image.
Not only is the machine itself state-of-the-art, the technology that controls it is fully digital, which enhances the clarity of the image through manipulation. Regular x-ray (film) provides only a one-dimensional image. Digital images can be sent through the Internet to doctors’ offices and to other departments in the hospital. They are stored on computer, where they are easily accessible to staff and physicians. (X-rays on film are taken to doctor’s offices by hand and are stored in a huge warehouse. Sometimes it can take days to retrieve them, and sometimes they may be lost or damaged.)
Timothy Eckel, M.S., M.D., a former medical staff member at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, was recruited by neurosurgeons and radiologists to help enhance the neuroradiology capabilities at AAMC. He said, “While many university hospitals have equipment as sophisticated as this, few non- academic hospitals do. It means that patients with life-threatening neurovascular disease, such as an aneurysm or stroke, have a much better chance of recovery with a hospital in close proximity. With diseases that can cut off blood to the brain, every minute matters.”
The bi-plane is designed to study cerebral circulation and to locate tumors, aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations. However, it has other applications as well. In addition to its use in the brain and cerebral vasculature, the AAMC spinal and pain management interventionists (Dr. Timothy Eckel, Dr. Kerry Thompson and Dr. Azar Dagher) are finding the bi-plane an extremely useful tool for interventions in the spine. One such intervention includes vertebroplasty, in which a cement-like substance is infused into a spinal fracture for relief of pain and fracture fixation. This is an outpatient procedure that can help patients with chronic back pain resume a normal lifestyle without a dependency on pain medication.
Dr. Eckel said he hopes to expand diagnostic and treatment areas to include neurovascular disease.
“We are developing the capabilities to provide much more neurovascular intervention than we do now and hope to begin providing that service very soon, particularly in the treatment of acute stroke.”