October 2, 2005
Sutter Solano moves ahead with high-tech diagnostic equipment
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Sutter Solano Medical Center has gone digital, edging out Kaiser Permanente, Vallejo, in rolling out the latest diagnostic technology, officials of both hospitals said Friday.
The new X-ray technology allows technicians to see the images in real time, rather than waiting to have them developed. It's like the difference between a regular camera and digital, hospital spokesmen said.
David Alba, manager of Sutter Solano Medical Center's Imaging Services, said the upgrade is a big improvement for doctors and patients.
"It's state of the art," Alba said. "It's long overdue here in Vallejo."
Alba said Sutter facilities in San Francisco, Sacramento and Fairfield already use the technology, which eliminates the need for X-ray film. Images can also be copied onto discs for easier storage and transport, he said.
Kaiser Vallejo had the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) technology installed last April, but won't come on line with it for a few months, said John Ellis, Kaiser's director of radiology for the Napa and Solano area.
"We're rolling it out in phases regionally," Ellis said. "The first was in Sacramento more than a year ago. Napa is the only facility still to be digitalized."
The new technology saves money, time and space by allowing images to be stored on discs and viewed simultaneously in different locations, the experts said.
Sutter's Fairfield Digital Imaging Center, 2700 Low Court Road, is the only medical facility in Solano County with digital mammography, though Sutter Solano and Kaiser Vallejo are expecting to have the capability within a few years.
A new study shows the digital mammogram is more accurate than traditional
X-rays for women under 50, perimenopausal women and women with dense breast tissue, said Shelly Gordon, a Sutter Regional Medical Foundation spokesperson.
"It also cuts down on having to repeat the procedure because of film problems," Gordon said. "Everything's going digital, it's only a matter of time."
Though the digital mammography technology has been around for a decade, few facilities have it yet, because of the equipment's expense, Gordon said. The upgrade is part of a $9 million imaging services renovation project. Sutter Solano doctors now have the option to refer patients to Fairfield for the procedure, Gordon said.
Ellis said digital mammography won't likely make it to Kaiser Vallejo until 2008.
- E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at RachelZ@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6824.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
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