Sentara Unveils Region’s First Public Cardiac CT Scanner
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Sentara Unveils Region’s First Public Cardiac CT Scanner 

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Norfolk, VA – January 10, 2007 - Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and count to five. Now within seconds, physicians at Sentara can rule out (or in) serious heart conditions using the region’s only 64-slice CT scanner, all without surgery or an invasive procedure.

Sentara unveils the GE LightSpeed VCT, the region’s fastest and most accurate CT scanner at the Advanced Imaging Center—Sentara Heart Hospital®, the area’s only dedicated heart imaging center.

Previously, a look into the heart came during an invasive heart catheterization for a patient at high risk of heart disease. Now, using this state-of-the-art instrument, thousands of crystal clear images of the heart and its vessels are possible for even unlikely heart patients. Sentara physicians have information to know almost instantly the cause of chest pain or shortness of breath.

That’s exactly what happened for a recent patient scheduled for knee surgery but whose stress test left doubt about a safe surgical outcome. Using the new CT scanner, physicians immediately knew of the 70% blockage that threatened surgical complications or a heart attack. This blockage was opened and surgery went on as planned.

Need for Speed
“There are times when every minute counts for diagnosing a serious heart condition. Sentara has broken new ground by offering area patients the life-saving speed of this CT scanner–something not currently available within about 100 miles,” says Howard P. Kern, Sentara’s chief operating officer.

“Sentara is the only institution in the area with this level of advanced imaging capability, coupled with a top authority in his field to offer expert interpretation of the images,” says cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Glenn Barnhart.

Under the direction of Dr. Mohit Bhasin, cardiologist at Sentara Heart Hospital®, the Advanced Imaging Center will serve as a national training site for cardiac imaging.

“Dr. Bhasin has the highest level of training possible in cardiac CT and MRI imaging. He’s evaluated nearly 1,000 CT and MRI studies of the heart with stunning accuracy. His background as a cardiologist and specialized training make his interpretation and recommendations invaluable to area patients and physicians,” Barnhart continues.

The LightSpeed opens doors to diagnostic cardiac imaging not possible before in our region. Primarily, the 64 slice CT will be used for the following innovative diagnostics.

5-Beat Cardiac™ - Sentara physicians gain complete images of the heart and surrounding arteries in just 5 seconds, providing clear views of the coronary arteries and the dangerous plaque within that can rupture and lead to a heart attack. Patients most likely to benefit from the new CT are those whose complaints might indicate heart disease but who are not showing the classic symptoms. Other ideal patients are those who have had a stress test that is either inconclusive or suspected inaccurate.

“Cardiac CTs are excellent for patients who come in with chest pain—a potential indication of serious heart disease—but whose symptoms are not typical,” says Dr. Bhasin. “Because every invasive procedure has potential risks, we don’t like to do them on every patient. Now cardiac CTs allow us to quickly assess patients with one noninvasive test. Using this tool, Sentara will begin to identify patients in some of the earliest stages of heart disease,” he continued.

Today, only six 64-slice CTs exist in Virginia with the nearest being located in Richmond, Virginia.

Coming Soon—Region’s Only Dedicated Cardiac MRI
Sentara has state approval to add a cardiac MRI to the Advanced Imaging Center—Sentara Heart Hospital. In early 2007, physicians will have the region’s only dedicated cardiac MRI at their fingertips to assess heart function including valve disorders and tumors. Involving no radiation, cardiac MRI is safe and ideal for determining heart function. Providing information never available before—an indication of the amount of heart tissue viable—will promote selection of the best course of treatment.

Sentara is the region’s premier not-for-profit health care provider and established five Advanced Imaging Centers, including the region’s only dedicated to heart imaging at Sentara Heart Hospital®.

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