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‘Super’ scanner shows detail in animated 3D

A new scanner has been unveiled which can produce 3D body images of unprecedented clarity while reducing radiation by as much as 80%. The new 256-slice CT machine takes large numbers of X-ray pictures, and combines them using computer technology to produce the final detailed images. It also generates images in a fraction of the time of other scanners: a full body scan takes less than a minute. It can capture an image of the entire heart in just two beats. The Philips machine was unveiled at the Radiological Society of North America. Since the images are 3D they can be rotated and viewed from different directions – giving doctors the greatest possible help in looking for signs of abnormalities or disease. All images also can be accessed on any computer in a hospital or by colleagues and researchers remotely, to make it easier for the whole team to share information. The scan is much quicker than current technology, as the machine’s X-ray emitting gantry – the giant ring-shaped part that surrounds the patient – can rotate four times in a single second – 22% faster than current systems. At present, it is only being used in one hospital: the Metro Health medical centre in Cleveland, Ohio, which has been using it for the past month. The high resolution enables you to see smaller things in both the lungs and the airways and then decide whether there is anything there and how best to get at it.

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