The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Sunday, Feb. 11, 2001
outlook 2001


Advantax TC gives UCH advantages

By Kristen Garrett
Herald Staff Writer

Though United Community Hospital has had the Advantax TC for over a year, doctors have found new ways to help patients.

The Advantax TC is a digital x-ray imaging system. The machine has a concentrated field of view that takes pictures and uses computers to generate the images to a screen.

The machine was initially used for diagnostic procedures such as barium studies and balloon angioplasty, said Dr. Craig Trent, medical director of imaging services.

Kathy Lehman, public relations director for UCH, said they have found ways to use the Advantax TC for "interventional radiology" versus diagnostic. "Itís simply amazing what theyíre doing," she said.

The Dialysis Clinic Inc. rents space in the hospital and doctors are using the machine to help those patients, Mrs. Lehman said.

Trent said dialysis patients have three places on each arm where fistulas can be placed. A fistula is the place where the artery is connected directly to the vein bypassing the capillaries, Trent said. He said the life of a fistula is about 18 months, and then the veins canít take the pressure of the pulsating blood and they become scarred.

Judy Miller, director of medical imaging, said it is very important to prolong the life of the fistulas for as long as possible. "When the life of the sites are over so is the patientís life," Mrs. Miller said.

The Advantax TC is being used to help doctors to perform balloon angioplasty on the fistulas to keep the veins open, Trent said.

Doctors have also been using the machine to perform a procedure called Vertebroplasty -- the injection of glue into a fracture, Trent said. He said glue that is injected into the fractures is the same type of glue orthopedic surgeons use on hips.

The first Vertebroplasty was performed Jan. 5 at UCH on an 84-year-old woman who had a compression fracture in her spine, Mrs. Lehman said. She said the patient was in "excruciating pain" and was unable to move. The idea of the procedure is to get the patient ambulatory, she said.

Paula Swartz, a registered nurse at UCH, said on a scale of zero to 10 -- with zero being no pain and 10 being unbearable -- the woman described her pain as a 10. Shortly after the Vertebroplasty was complete the woman said her pain level was down to four, Ms. Swartz said.

Fractures can happen through a fall or a significant loss of calcium, Trent said. He added some people with calcium loss can get a fracture just by lifting something heavy. Trent said these injuries can lead to more severe problems in people who are bedridden.

By using the Advantax TC to perform the Vertebroplasty and get patients ambulatory, there is a reduced risk of problem like blood clots, Trent said.

"I think itís a real asset to the community," Trent said of the machine and itís new uses.

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