(Photo by Scott Welton, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Sometimes smaller is better.
Missouri Delta Medical Center's latest piece of equipment, an OrthoScan Mini C-Arm fluoroscope, may not look like much for costing over $50,000.
"It only weighs 170 pounds," said Dr. Doug Foltz, a podiatrist at MDMC. "It's about the size of a small filing cabinet."
But good things come in small packages.
"It's used to take live X-ray pictures during surgery," Foltz said. "There are multiple uses for it but it is used mainly for small bone surgery."
Being a foot and ankle specialist, Foltz is already using the machine about a dozen times each week for surgeries. It is particularly useful for treating hand, foot and ankle fractures and reconstructive surgeries for these small bones.
The machine's small size is actually a big asset as using it requires almost no assistance from hospital staff.
"You're not bringing this huge machine in," Foltz said, "and you can move it to where you need it."
The Mini C-Arm has advantages much more significant than being able to move it around easier, however.
"The importance of this is that it emits a miniscule amount of radiation," Foltz said. "That's the big advantage over a standard fluoroscope machine."
To give some perspective on how much less radiation is involved, Foltz said with the new Mini C-Arm fluoroscope they can get 700 X-ray pictures before they get the same amount of radiation the old standard C-arm would expose them to.
"For the patient this is basically no radiation exposure -- it is so small as to be barely measurable," Foltz said. "Patients and staff don't have to wear any lead."
While not having to wear a lead vest makes things considerably more comfortable for patients, not being weighed down with protective lead also makes it much easier for physicians and hospital staff to do their work, Foltz said.
Less radiation also means the Mini C-Arm can be used for real-time X-ray imaging during surgeries to ensure proper alignment of bones and the precise placement of hardware such as screws, plates and pins, Foltz said. "It allows the surgeon to visualize the procedure," he said.
In addition to being tied in with MDMC's Picture Archiving and Communications System, the Mini C-Arm fluoroscope also has its own onboard computer that can hold 4,000 images, Foltz said.
The Mini C-Arm also represents another first for the hospital, according to Sharon Urhahn, director of marketing for MDMC. "We're the only hospital in the area that has this machine," she said.