Siemens Healthineers India, the pioneer in cardiac CT imaging in the country, offers leading non-invasive imaging technologies to diagnose coronary diseases among high risk patients. In an interview with Elets News Network (ENN), Sanjay David, Head of CT in India on Cardiovascular CT/Coronary CT Angiography, Siemens Healthineers India, talks about the accuracy of the equipment and convenience they offer to the patient.
Q. Tell us about Siemens Healthineers legacy in cardiovascular CT. What are their key advantages?
Siemens Healthineers India brought cardiac CT to India in the year 2000. Since then we have launched a number of products in the Somatom series of CT scanner models. We are the pioneers in cardiac CT imaging. The advantage of cardiac CT imaging is that you can see the coronary arteries in a non-invasive manner. The patient is not required to be admitted in the hospital for cardiac study. Compared to the traditional methods for evaluating coronary artery disease, this system gives you a very high negative predictive value and a very high sensitivity. If the system confirms a coronary disease, you can be 99 per cent sure of it.
Q. Does it require special skills or technical knowledge to get the coronary CT angiography done on the patient?
I think, you need to have the right CT scanner with the required speed and the right temporal resolution because the heart is a beating organ. The scan has to be fast enough to capture good images of the heart as it is beating. The heart vessels we see through the imaging equipment is the size of a few mm. If you see a vessel, which is fraction of a cm and it is beating at a speed of 5-7 cm per second, you also need to have a good spatial resolution to see the object of this optic size. Once the object is imaged a lot of things are automated through the CT scanner. A lot of manual interventions that were required 15 years ago are not required any more. There is a lot of artificial intelligence embedded in our CT scanners, which allows the doctors to have the results of the same quality every time scanning is done, irrespective of who is operating the machine.
Q. Does Siemens Healthineers also provide some kind of training to the doctors?
Once the images are delivered, the final decision whether the patient has a coronory disease or not is arrived at after the doctor evaluates the images. This is a very special expertise which cannot be taught to the application specialist team. The specialist team trains the doctors on how to use the machine to get the images. We have tie-ups with several organisations like the Society of Cardiac CT USA and Escorts Hospitals India over the last four years to train the doctors over this technology.
Q. What are the cost implications for the patient as well as the hospital adopting this technology?
The overall cost to the patient for treatment of the disease should remain low. Suppose the technology is increasing the cost of treating the disease, then this technology will not sustain in the long run. India today has 60 per cent of the heart patients in the world. But since this technology is non-invasive and the patient does not require to get admitted, it brings down the overall cost of treatment.
Q. Are you also looking to expand the adoption of your coronory CT technology to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities?
We have a range of cardiac CT scanners so that it can be affordable for hospitals in Tier 2 cities as well. Some of the big chain hospitals and major cardiac hospitals would like to have the highest level of technology and systems, whereas smaller hospitals with less number of patients would go for a lesser sophisticated technology and systems.
Q. How are Siemens Healthineers CT scanners be made available to diagnose patients in small villages?
A good example of this is a hospital in Pune, which has tied-up with several nearby villages so that the patient can book an appointment and get himself tested. The benefit is that the patient can go back to his routine work and also get a thoroughly checkup done. This model also helps in bringing down the cardiac diagnosis cost.
Q. How can early diagnosis of coronary disease be linked with India’s universal healthcare goals?
Studies have shown that 50 per cent of deaths due to heart disease happen due to the first attack. That means the patient does not know that he has a heart problem. We believe that this technology will play a big role by identifying the disease early in high risk patients and the patient can be advised to make changes in the lifestyle.