Thursday, 28 September 2023

St. Helena Hospital adds revolutionary heart scan technology

ST. HELENA St. Helena Hospital's Cardiovascular Center has acquired a revolutionary diagnostic device for heart disease that can capture high-resolution images of the heart and coronary arteries so quickly that it freeze-frames the heart while it's beating.

The new technology, a Toshiba Aquilion 64-slice CFX scanner, allows doctors to visualize the heart in less than 10 seconds, revealing blockages in blood vessels and other heart problems that are sometimes not easily detectable with other tests.

St. Helena Hospital is the first provider in Napa and Lake counties to offer this new diagnostic tool to the community.

"The hospital's scanner is so fast it can synchronize with the patient's heart rhythm and capture images between beats," said David Racker, M.D. radiologist at St. Helena Hospital. "This new diagnostic tool dramatically changes the way we diagnose coronary artery disease."

In the past, cardiovascular disease was best diagnosed by cardiac catheterization, an invasive procedure that takes at least an hour to perform and several more hours for recovery.

With the heart scan, the need for cardiac catheterization can be eliminated for many patients. The new procedure is less invasive and requires no preparation except an intravenous injection of contrast solution. The patient lies on a bed that moves into the camera lens and stops at the chest area.

"The patient's head and legs are unencumbered," said Medical Imaging Director Chuck Adams. "After the test is over, patients can immediately go on their way. There is no recovery time."

In a matter of seconds the scan produces three-dimensional images of the heart painlessly allowing physicians to detect the narrowing of arteries that can cause heart attack. "These images are so detailed that doctors can catch arteriosclerosis early, reducing the risk of strokes and heart attack," said Adams.

Physicians at St. Helena Hospital's Cardiovascular Center use advanced workstations to generate the three-dimensional images and read the exam. The results are usually ready for the patient's doctor the same day.

"With this test, we are able to get unique information on the biology of the vessel walls to see if disease is present," said Dr. Racker. "We even have potential to see plaque inside the wall, something that coronary angiography can't reveal."

Added Adams, “The bottom line is, the earlier we can diagnose heart disease, the better the chance we have to treat it successfully. Now, with the 64-slice CT scan at St. Helena Hospital, doctors have significantly improved diagnostic support tools to support early detection."

St. Helena Hospital received two grants totaling $1 million from the Napa Valley Vintners Auction Napa Valley and another contribution of $100,000 from a private donor to purchase the new heart scan.

For more information on the Cardiovascular Center, go to


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09.28.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
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