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Heart scanner world first for Ulster Hospital

This article was taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-43115124

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A Belfast hospital has become the first in the world to have a dedicated CT heart scanner installed to specifically detect heart disease.

The scanner can detect a problem in less than a heartbeat.

It was developed by a Dublin-based company and has been installed in the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.

The scanner takes a 3D image of the heart, which allows physicians to diagnose or rule out disease.

It is hoped it also replaces the need for invasive tests and return visits to the chest pain clinic.

Dr Patrick Donnelly, a consultant cardiologist at the Ulster Hospital, has been involved in the development of the scanner.BBc

“We can diagnose in a less than a heartbeat and it’s not just about the heart arteries, we can see the muscle, the heart chambers, the valves. If there’s disease that needs to be treated we can see it,” he said.

The scanner has already been used in the diagnosis of a patient.

Last week, John Adamson was feeling extremely lethargic. He attended the Ulster Hospital where he underwent tests, but by Friday he thought he felt well enough to set off to an Ulster rugby match at the Kingspan Stadium.

“The phone went and it was my wife. She said the cardiac ward in the Ulster had been on and they want you to give them a ring,” he said.

“I phoned and they said ‘could you come in’. I explained I wanted to go to the rugby match, but my daughter said: ‘Dad, don’t be stupid!’

“Instead of going right, we went left and I came to the Ulster and was admitted.”

The state-of-the-art scanner had picked up a tumour on John’s heart. He is now awaiting open heart surgery.

Dr Donnelly said the scanner will also help in the shift towards prevention of heart disease.

“We believe we will identify 40% of patients that at present would not be treated because we wouldn’t have the technology to identify narrowings in their heart arteries,” he said.

“With this technology, patients who are likely to have a heart event in five to 10 years time will be treated and we would hope that that event will no longer occur.”

The scanner is much smaller than a normal CT scanner, so it could be housed in an emergency department that frequently sees patients who have suffered, or who are in the process of suffering, a heart attack.