Dr. Wood discusses CT scanning at ARA
Host: Welcome back to We Are Austin from home. When you need medical attention a CT scan can provide more detailed information about what’s going on inside your body.
Today we’re talking with Dr. Jeff Wood, a musculoskeletal radiologist at ARA Diagnostic Imaging about what CT is actually and really, its important role in medical imaging. First, good morning to you, Dr. Wood. Jeff. Great to see you!
Dr. Wood: Good morning! Long time! Nice to see you.
Host: It has been a long time. And here we are in our squares again, hopefully not for too much longer, but it is always great to connect with you. You’ve got such a wealth of information. I want to start, kind of, really what
the first question is, you know, I think through TV and friends and even personal experiences perhaps, we’ve all heard about CT, or CAT scans, but what is it exactly? Can you help explain that to our friends at home?
Dr. Wood: Yeah, sure. Yeah, most people outside of medicine will call them CAT scans still. It’s just part of the old acronym. But basically what it’s doing is compiling a bunch of X-rays. So almost everyone knows what it’s like to have an X-ray done. In reality, most people have probably had a CT as well, but what’s it’s actually doing is taking lots of X-rays and then a supercomputer puts those together, and by adding them in from different angles around the circle then you can end up doing all kinds of very, very cool things with it.
Host: Amazing. You end up with this incredibly detailed imaging which we’re going to see here in a minute. So, what is a CT typically used for? When might a patient find themselves in this case?
Dr. Wood: Yeah, it’s very vast. Almost every time we come on with you, we talk about different sorts of modalities, what we call them, different kinds of tools in our chest and what we can use. It’s by far the most agile. It can be used, anything from – worried about stroke – finding out that. If you have blood clots in your lungs, you hear of a lot of people talk about pulmonary embolism. You can use it for trauma, you can use it for really good bone findings. Belly films – you can look for cancer – if it’s getting better, if it’s getting worse, if you have metastases, that sort of thing. So, it’s actually very, very vast and that’s why it’s utilized so much.
Host: Yeah, really versatile, and ‘agile’ is a great word to use there. And here’s a great example. In fact, you actually have a few examples of cases that you’ve worked on, in different varieties that you’re going to show us. And we’ll get to see kind of first-hand how really versatile and valuable this tool is.
Dr. Wood: Yeah, showing you guys is a lot more important, or a lot more fun, anyway, than talking to me about it so let me show you a few.
Host: Let’s do it.
Dr. Wood: So here we have a patient – this is one of their cancer follow-up screens to see how their treatment is progressing. The cool part we could use like we were talking about with computers is we can actually change what we call the window and level so we can change these to where we can see the bones better or the soft tissues better, like the heart or, unfortunately in this case, we can see these big masses in their lungs here. And these are unfortunately metastases from their kidney cancer so their kidney cancer has spread.
Here’s a shot – what we call coronal – but this is just the whole body from the front. And here’s what a normal kidney looks like and unfortunately this is what this kidney cancer happens to look like. And then, we can also look at the bones… and look for bone metastases. Like I said this becomes a very, very helpful tool for lots of different parts of the body. Here you can actually see a metastasis from the kidney cancer chewing into the bone there.
Then out of the emergency room we see lots of headaches and strokes and unfortunately this is a very good version. So, this is a brain, here, this is sort of if you cut down like a loaf of bread. I’m not sure if you guys can see this far over but you can tell here where we’re actually scrolling through. So, all this bright, unfortunately, is hemorrhage in the brain, so this person had a very large stroke and then that turned and bled. And, so, we see what that does and then the side effects from it get very complicated very fast. So, we’ll kind of go past that.
And here is just a pretty routine thing that we use it a lot for. So now we’re using CT oftentimes for preoperative evaluation, before your surgery when you have bony fractures, just to either see how well bones are healing or if they’re going to put plates in your wrist or if you’re going to get a new knee replacement – something like that. This person had a pretty good radius fracture so their distal arm right before their wrist here. So, this piece should be on here. And you can see that it’s actually pushed down and it’s back to the back. So, we call that displaced and impacted. And here’s just what the normal CT looks like from the side. So, you can see the fracture.
Host: Well, it’s fascinating, Jeff, to see the power of that tool and how dynamic it is to get those deep images. And how helpful that can be in your work. For the patient, on the patient’s side, what is the experience like and what can they expect, getting a CT?
Yeah, most people check in just like any other exam that you would have and we usually will get vitals, so blood pressure, that sort of thing. If you need to get contrast you can actually get it in your veins so we can do what’s called intravenous. You’ll be with the CT tech – they’ll take you back to the suite. You’ll see this big machine that kind of has a big white donut with a table that rolls through it.
Sit down, they’ll leave the room and instruct you over the microphone. One of the benefits of CT and the reason we use it so much is how quick it is. So, the vast majority of scans are very quick. Some, depending on if we need to do more imaging, can take just a little bit longer. But compared to MRI, which we talked about on our last segment, it’s much, much quicker.
Host: And still such a valuable tool. It’s amazing the images you were able to get from that. It’s great to see those, too. As a radiologist, what is it that you like most about CT and how does it benefit patients, in turn?
Dr. Wood: Again, I think the agility of it, the ability – that it can just be such a workhorse. We can use it in emergencies quickly, preoperatively like we talked about with this wrist, and then just its overall cost makes it much more available. Plus, MRI and some of these other scans that we do, if you have metal and some of these things you can have contraindications and CT, for almost everyone, there’s no reason why you can’t get it. It’s the ability to scan almost anyone on almost any body part. It’s sort of the best all-around scan.
Host: Well, thank you so much, Jeff, for showing us this powerful tool today and how you use it there at ARA Diagnostic Imaging. Where can we go to learn more?
Dr. Wood: Yeah! Come see us at ausrad.com. Ton of locations and we actually just opened one over in East Austin in Manor.
Host: Excellent. We’ll keep that on the screen for our viewers at home. Jeff, Dr. Wood, thank you so much for taking us through this incredible process and showing us the powerful tool you have there at your disposal to use for patients. We appreciate you diving deep into that for us.
Dr. Wood: Yeah, thanks – it’s nice to see you guys!
Host: You too! Take care, be well, and stay right there friends, there’s more We Are Austin coming up right after this.
ARA continues to follow CDC guidelines in requiring employees and patients to wear masks at our imaging centers for the safety of all.