A Canon branded lorry parks a mobile CT scanning unit, with CT SCAN UNIT and the Canon logo printed on the side. It is outside what appears to be a brown brick office building, surrounded by trees and bushes.

The impossible, made possible

We live in extraordinary times and as a result have seen some incredibly fast and creative ways to address the challenges of the new world that Covid-19 has created.  Nowhere has this been more evident than in our medical settings, with hospitals and their services adapting rapidly to ensure that all patients receive the best care. However, where fixed diagnostic tools are required for both Covid and Covid-free patients, resources and hospital logistics are tested and stretched to their limits.

CT scanning is essential in the management of infectious diseases and it’s seen a sharp rise in demand during the Covid-19 pandemic for its ability to allow medics to investigate the effects of the virus on internal tissues and, of course, the lungs. However, these patients must also be isolated during their treatment and everything they come into contact with requires swift and through disinfection. The increased need and contagion risk make the use of this essential tool in the treatment of other diseases far more challenging than normal. Essentially, hospitals were looking for a safe way to increase capacity on a temporary basis, that could still deliver to the high standards they were used to.

These kinds of temporary, mobile solutions are already an established part of Canon Medical Systems’ Refurbished and Mobile Imaging Solutions Group and can be rented or leased, as required. Even in the early stages of the crisis, the team had started to work on a model that would support the new and very specific needs of hospitals, the result being an emergency mobile CT Scan Unit, ready for immediate deployment. Based around the concept of a 42ft shipping container, it can be transported by rail, sea or even air. It takes under an hour to unload, park and set up as a functioning medical space, and is flexible enough to stand alone, fit inside a tented area or even be combined with porta-cabins to create a temporary building facility. It is also cleverly designed so that the patient and CT operator are apart, in rooms that have entirely separate airflow, as well as having the kind of hospital-grade walls and flooring and 360º lead-shielding you would expect from any medical facility.

An image of a red lorry with the Canon logo on the front. Over the front, left, is an image of a woman with her hands framing an x-ray of the lorry, which shows a CT scanner inside.
The first mobile CT scanning unit were manufactured and delivered to customers in Germany, Italy and Norway.

In addition to the considerate quality of the build, not a single requirement was left unresolved – each unit contains a state-of-the-art CT Scan Unit – either a Canon Medical Aquilion Prime SP or Aquilion Lightning SP CT system. It is a self-contained space for patients and staff, isolated from the rest of the hospital, designed to keep both as safe and comfortable as possible and any staff who are new to the units are given full training. After each use the CT system can be disinfected within minutes, using a special rapid decontamination tool designed specifically for imaging equipment. But, critically, the scanner itself is fast, through the use of Artificial Intelligence-based imaging. This is precisely what’s required, not just because swift diagnosis is important, but because sufferers of Covid-19 do not have the ability or capacity to hold their breath for any prolonged amount of time.

At the beginning of March, The Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) contacted Canon Medical Systems and was one of the first hospitals in The Netherlands to require this extra CT scanning capacity, isolated from the rest of the hospital. “We needed a lung CT scanner,” explains Dr. Daan Katchaki, Manager Radiology. “It had to be good, quick, easy-to-install, easy-to-use, and easy-to-clean. At that time, we did not have a prepared room in our building and separated patient-routing was not yet specified in regulations.” The situation was evolving rapidly, and a mobile Aquilion Prime SP CT scanner was transported and installed in just a matter of days, adding extra capacity on top of their existing Aquilion CT. At the same time, the LUMC built a department, isolated from the rest of the hospital, specifically for managing the new influx of patients.

From this point onwards, the need for mobile CT Scan Units increased substantially, with the added challenges of a new regulatory landscape in response to the global health crisis. Canon Medical System’s production workflow was already subject to strict regulation and legal compliance, but the nature of the virus has seen both change and evolve frequently – sometimes within a matter of hours. As a result, the team and their facilities, based in Zoetermeer, the Netherlands, have expanded to meet demand, and multiple units are being shipped every week. As Johan Vochteloo,Canon Medical’s Director Refurbished and Mobile Imaging Solutions points out, “when you're being called to do the impossible, you deserve an imaging partner that innovates solutions that are ‘Made Possible’.”

Find out more about the mobile solutions offered by Canon Medical on their website.

Written by Canon Medical’s magazine VISIONS #35

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