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Quality Diagnostics at Your Doorstep


Tillamook County General Hospital has recently installed a new Symbia S Nuclear Medicine scanner. The scanner is a state-of-the-art diagnostic tool used by physicians. Providing this technology in the coastal community will give patients the testing they need close to home and reduce the time, fuel and anxiety they may have spent driving long distances for the exam. Nuclear medicine is a subspecialty of radiology which uses very small amounts of FDA approved radioactive material to diagnose or treat disease abnormalities within the body.

Physicians use nuclear imaging to examine the structure and function of organs, tissue and bone. The technology shows the blood flow and functions of the heart, lungs, and gallbladder. Additionally, it provides physicians precise images of fractured bones, infections, arthritis and tumors. In many cases, physicians utilize this diagnostic tool to determine the presence or spread of cancer or to identify bleeding into the bowel.

"We are quite fortunate to have the most up-to-date, top of the line model to be found in the Northwest right here in Tillamook," says Alan Altamirano, Certified Nuclear Medicine Technologist. "This means consistent image quality and clarity and more images at a faster pace. This new scanner can also support testing on patients' weighing up to 500 pounds, which we were not able to do with the previous scanner." Reports are sent to healthcare providers electronically so no matter where they are located they can often receive the report and the actual images the same day the test is done.

The procedures use imaging scans with radioactive materials called a radiotracer. The radiotracer may be injected into a vein, swallowed by mouth or inhaled as a gas and collects in the area of the body being evaluated. The energy it gives off known as gamma rays are detected by a camera and produce special pictures detailing structure and function of organs and other internal body parts.