One of the world’s most advanced computed tomography (CT) scanners is being installed in University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. The CT system generates images with improved resolution, which helps provide doctors with crucial information to diagnose what is happening in a patient’s body. The SOMATOM Drive scanner, manufactured by Siemens, is the first of its kind to be installed in the United States. Only three other scanners of this type are in use worldwide.

The scanner will help physicians diagnose injury and illness by generating images in lifelike detail. These images give doctors crucial diagnostic information and help them identify what is happening inside a child’s body. Imaging pediatric patients presents specific challenges. For example, children are often unable to understand breathing instructions, time constraints may not make it possible to administer sedation, and their young age can increase dose sensitivity.

The new scanner will offer many benefits to patients and families. It can quickly and safely generate high-definition images of the heart, brain, bones, and tiny blood vessels with customized parameters based on each pediatric patient’s unique needs. It’s one of the world’s fastest CT scanners. In most cases, there’s no need for sedation or breath-holding, even in infants. At the same time, the system enhances patient safety by using lower doses of radiation than traditional CTs. This feature is critical for patients who may need to undergo multiple scans during treatment. The need for contrast will be reduced, too, making the imaging process easier for patients and families.

Designed with pediatric patients in mind, the scanner includes features to distract patients and help them relax. The scanner’s new touch-screen feature allows the operator to stand closer to the patient and interact with them longer. The operator’s presence will help reassure children as well as parents. Lighting can be customized with the patient’s choice of color, providing a distraction. The scanner was also designed to help eliminate claustrophobia.

Production and delivery of the scanner were expedited so it would be in place for the opening of our new hospital. The CT scanner will be part of our combined imaging, procedure, and sedation suite located on Lower Level 2 of our new hospital.