Topic: Dr Roy Buchanan
Head of Radiology Department. In 1914 doctors were unable to see inside the body. Today, Tauranga Hospital’s Radiology Department has equipment that enables doctors to see inside the body through the use of x-rays, ultrasounds, MRI and CT scans. They can immediately see what is wrong or broken and start treatment quickly, saving lives.
Dr Roy Buchanan started at the current Radiology Department when it was still relatively new in 1986. “At that time we didn’t have a CT scanner so we could only take x-rays or an ultrasound and then evaluate patients clinically. We would decide what was happening based on our results, clinical findings and laboratory tests,” says Roy.
“If a patient came in with a brain tumour, acute bleeding in the brain or trauma we wouldn’t have always been able to diagnose the underlying problem.”
“A skull x-ray would be taken and a fracture may have been identified. Calcium might have been visible on the x-ray and we could say, ‘that’s in the position where I’d expect it’, or, ‘it’s moved’. That’s basically as far as you could go with the skull x-ray. Whereas now with a CT scan we can see inside the brain. We can identify the location of a haemorrhage or any mass that might be there. This has resulted in a huge difference in the management of the patient,” says Roy.
“When CT scanning first started, the initial scanners were very slow and the image quality was poor. Now we can scan a patient from head to foot basically in seconds.
It’s very fast and the images start coming up as soon as you start scanning. We can have something like 2000 images produced from a CT scan within 30 seconds.”
“Within seconds of the patient having an x-ray or scan we can see the diseased organ using computerised imaging (PACS), and at a click of a button it can be viewed from multiple angles on a computer screen by any doctor within the Midland Region,” says Roy.
“Ultrasound allows us to see organs, a beating heart or a baby moving. CT scanning allows us to assess most major injuries and MRI allows us to see the fine detail of tendons, the brain and the spinal cord. It’s a different world.”
“Before CT scans, a person with a head injury would be monitored in hospital for at least 24 hours. They’d have constant nursing care; taking blood pressure and looking for changes in pupil reactions over 24 hours. Now we can immediately identify the problem and treat the patient so much betterbecause we can see what’s going on.”