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We Can See Clearly Now


The Aquilon has landed. From the outside it may look like any other CT scanner, but thanks to its 320-slice technology, it leapfrogs past its predecessors in a single bound.

“This is a major breakthrough,” says Kieran Murphy, director of interventional neuroradiology here. “It’s one of the most exciting tools I’ve ever seen in medicine.”

Because of Murphy’s close collaboration with the Aquilon’s creators at Toshiba, Hopkins is among the first two U.S. hospitals (the other is Boston’s Beth Israel) to deploy this mother of all scanners. It uses an unprecedented 320-slice technology, which quintuples the volume of tissue that can be viewed in a single take. Within Murphy’s own field of neuroradiology, that means the scan of a patient’s entire head can be captured—from the base of the skull to the top of the head—within seconds.

Such a complete image can give physicians a quick and commanding glimpse into the early stages of a stroke, many of which can be successfully reversed with clot-busting drugs if diagnosed within the crucial first three hours. The quicker process also spares patients needless exposure to radiation.

The 320-slice Aquilon—ensconced on Blalock 5—has already aided Hopkins patients with a range of complications, including those with heart and liver problems. Cardiologist Joao Lima, who has headed up cardiovascular testing for the new technology here, says the scanner’s speed allows him to take a much quicker shot of a beating heart—down to two seconds or less—valuable in detecting arrhythmias, calcium deposits or other areas of restricted blood flow.

Murphy also reports that the super-scanner has even made quick business of the sort of case that used to require hours of general anesthesia. Physicians here wanted to see the source of a man’s sleep apnea, but his body type posed its own obstacle: At 5 feet tall, he weighed 300 pounds. With its speed and large-image capacity, the Aquilon had the patient’s image within about six minutes.   

— RF



Johns Hopkins Medicine

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