Monica Chai, Janell Thorpe and Janna McNeely from medical imaging at VJH are grateful for the new diagnostic camera. (VJH Foundation photo)

New diagnostic camera replaces old equipment at Okanagan hospital

Cutting-edge addition to medical imaging department thanks to legacy gift

Much to the excitement of the medical imaging department, a unique tool for diagnosing and treating patients has now been installed in nuclear medicine at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. A new gamma camera, a GE NM 830 system, has replaced the 20-year old camera and the department is now boasting the most up-to-date and newest technology.

Dr. Curtis Mohamed, Medical Director of Nuclear Medicine explains: “The new camera comes with more sophisticated and updated technology for more accurate and comprehensive diagnosis and patient management. And because disease begins with microscopic cell changes, our team has the potential to identify disease in an earlier, more treatable stage.”

In conventional diagnostic imaging, an external source of energy such as X-rays, magnetic fields or ultrasound waves are used to produce primarily structural pictures. However, in nuclear medicine procedures, the energy source is introduced into the body in the form of a radioactive tracer. This tracer then accumulates in a specific tissue, organ or process and is then detected by a gamma camera to provide information on organ function and cellular activity.

The purchase was made possible thanks to a legacy gift.

“Legacy gifts often have great impact. A generous member of our community left a bequest in support of high priority needs in medical imaging. That generous gift enabled us to support minor renovations and the purchase of this critical diagnostic tool for our hospital” stated Kate McBrearty, VJH Foundation Executive Director.

Janell Thorpe, Professional Practice Leader and Radiation Safety Officer in the VJH Nuclear Medicine Department added: “The nuclear medicine team provides a wide variety of diagnostic exams across various departments. This advanced gamma camera provides better overall service to our patients as it enables us to use the latest technology to see with greater resolution how the body is functioning. It also has a more comfortable scanning bed and faster scanning times for some exams.”

“Many of the people that will be scanned will be cancer patients,” continued Thorpe. “Newly diagnosed patients visit the Nuclear Medicine department early in their diagnosis to have a pre-surgical scan done to detect lymph nodes. Follow-up exams will then occur every 2-3 months throughout their treatment in the first year of their diagnosis. The nuclear medicine scans will help determine the spread of disease, the effectiveness of the treatment, and will monitor any side effects chemotherapy drugs may be having on the heart.”

“Our team often forms strong bonds with these patients. We meet them in the initial stages of diagnosis and follow them throughout their treatment journey to recovery, cheering them on from the sidelines. We could not be more thrilled to have this new technology available to us.”

The gamma camera was installed early last month and has been operational at VJH since March 17.

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