Faster Technology Means More Relaxed Patients

Andrea Lutz|2020-02-13

Two systems from the SOMATOM go. platform are helping radiologie team rur to deliver much greater convenience for patients and operators.

Photos: Andreas Mährlein

With every new product generation, CT system engineers have found ways of reducing radiation dose even further and raising image quality even higher. Now, however, they are facing new challenges: Today’s scanners must make examinations ever more efficient and deliver ever greater convenience for both patients and operators. To develop systems that fulfil these requirements, Siemens Healthineers asked radiologists, patients, and referring physicians in various countries about their ideal CT scanner. The responses led to the creation of the SOMATOM go. platform. radiologie team rur, a radiology practice in western Germany, purchased two SOMATOM go. systems shortly after the launch.

radiologie team rur previously used SOMATOM Emotion systems at its two locations in Jülich and Düren. The practice replaced these systems with the SOMATOM go. platform in order to broaden its portfolio. Now the Düren site has a SOMATOM go.Top, and Jülich has a SOMATOM go.Up. “The greatest difference with the new scanners is that they’re so much faster,” explains Ulrich Sous, radiologist at radiologie team rur. The systems standardize key steps in the operating process, so users only need to make a few entries to perform a scan. In addition, the fully automated postprocessing means that even less experienced employees can produce high-quality examination results. For Sous, this all represents significant added value: “We believe it’s important for examinations to be as comfortable as possible for our patients. The faster and easier examinations are performed, the more relaxed our patients are.”

Ulrich Sous, radiologist at radiologie team rur, with one of the new systems from the SOMATOM go. platform in the background.
Ulrich Sous, radiologist at radiologie team rur

All SOMATOM go. scanners are operated via a mobile tablet. This allows operators to stay with patients while preparing the scan, rather than moving between the examination room and the control room. “I love having the tablet there for examinations,” explains Sous. “We can complete periradicular therapy or a facet joint injection in a matter of minutes.” Sous was the driving force behind making pain therapy an established part of the practice’s services. He appreciates being able to talk to patients while looking for where to place the needle. The added attention helps to reduce their anxiety: “We don’t merely want to generate images – we also want to see our patients as living people with feelings, and talk with them as much as we can.” Everyone in the team shares this attitude.

Sous points out that another reason for procuring the new SOMATOM go. systems was to make the practice more appealing to potential new employees. With skilled staff in short supply in the region, the recruitment market is highly competitive. Sous says that the new systems create an attractive working environment because they are so fast and easy to operate: “Being able to work together is vital. It’s important that we all understand each other here, and also have the chance to take a break. Both these systems help us do this.”

The new SOMATOM go.Top has improved the workflow in Düren. Examination turnaround has increased significantly: “Forty examinations a day is easily achievable,” says Sous, and describes the higher image quality as a big leap forward. He explains that the team wanted a SOMATOM go.Top because it would open up examinations (in particular coronary imaging) that aren’t possible with other systems. Now the team is looking forward to deploying the scanner’s integrated Dual Energy application – to detect peripheral pulmonary embolisms on a secondary iodine image, for example. Due to the Tin Filter used in front of the tube and the new stellar detector technology, the radiation dose involved is much lower than with the predecessor systems, says Sous: “That’s something our patients are very happy to hear about.” Contrast media requirements have also dropped with the new systems: “On average, we now only need 80 mL of contrast media (300 mg/mL) for a CT abdomen scan.”

Ulrich Sous, radiologist at radiologie team rur

“We were very impressed by the performance and turnaround for all examinations,” says Sous. “The only limiting factor is the physician who has to perform the diagnosis. That’s where we reach the limits of human capacity, even though much more would be possible at a technical level.” After using the scanners for six months, Sous is very happy with the cost-benefit ratio: “The maintenance costs are much lower for both the new systems, which was another reason for us to make the change. After all, the devices have to function for many years.” The SOMATOM go. scanners include a service package with remote maintenance that significantly reduces downtimes in case of system repair. “The cost-benefit ratio for these devices overall is perfect,” says Sous.

In 2008, two established radiology practices in Jülich and Düren joined forces to become a single team. radiologie team rur – the name comes from both locations being on the River Rur – is now the largest practice of its kind in the Düren area and also treats in-patients at Düren’s municipal hospital. Last fall, Ulrich Sous and his colleagues replaced their SOMATOM Emotion scanners with two new scanners from the SOMATOM go. platform. The new systems have allowed them to extend their examination portfolio. The Düren location now works with a SOMATOM go.Top, and Jülich uses a SOMATOM go.Up.

Andrea Lutz is a journalist and business trainer specialized on medical topics, technology, and healthcare IT. She lives in Nuremberg, Germany.