Star Wars technology has come to Buena Vista Regional Medical Center in Storm Lake.
Every Monday, BVRMC offers full PET/CT services to oncology patients. The acronym stands for positron emission tomography/computed tomography. The $3 million unit offers state-of-the-art radiological services. Joan Kurtz, BVRMC director of radiology, said the PET/CT scan technology allows patients to have the same technology now here in Storm Lake that was previously available only in larger communities like Sioux City.
Patients are referred by physicians before undergoing PET/CT scanning. In the procedure, the patient is injected with a radiopharmaceutical injection. The PET/CT scan lasts between 30 and 45 minutes. After the scan, the physician examines data to view "hot spots" or accelerated metabolic activity where cancers could be present.
Dr. Maurice Huffman, a physician with a specialty in oncology and radiological medicine, reads data in a computer that shows three-dimensional views of the patient.
The advantage of PET/CT technology, according to Kurtz, is that it looks at the entire body.
"The technology is the same as, say, Mayo Clinic," Kurtz said. "It's the exact same equipment that's used at any of the cancer centers."
Huffman said PET/CT allows physicians to merge two scans which takes a lot of the guesswork out of knowing whether there could be cancer cells present in the body and just where they might be. Once the physician reads the scan, he or she may then order a biopsy which can determine whether treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy, is needed.
The impact of PET/CT technology is that patients no longer need to travel for the technology that is available in Storm Lake. Other uses include Alzheimer's and cardiac diagnosis.