Did you know that an excessive amount of body fat damages the quality of images that you would get from using a CT or MR scanner? In order for a scan to be successful and the images to be precise, the x-rays must be able to infiltrate through layers of skin, tissue and fat. Since all body tissue absorbs and averts a certain amount of the x-ray waves, it is even more difficult to capture accurate data and images for people who are severely overweight. More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and there is no doubt that that number will continue to increase. This disturbing statistic has forced companies to accommodate for these patients in a few different ways:
- Radiologists are concerned with the amount of extra radiation that is needed in order to be able to capture effective images on an obese person. For this reason, companies are in the midst of developing software that will actually produce more powerful images while scanning through greater body masses.
- Imaging manufacturers have started to build larger machines that can better accommodate bariatric patients. Most standard gantry diameters are 60 cm, but now some systems have openings up to 80 cm wide.
- Imaging manufacturers also have table adjustments that need to be made. Most standard weight capacities for CT / MR tables range from 300lbs to 450lbs. Much more weight needs to be held in order for those tables to be stable for obese patients.
Unfortunately, as a person gains more weight, health issues arise.These issues call for more medical attention and health check-ups. However, if the patient is unable to fit in the scanner, some conditions or illnesses could be missed or go undiscovered-which in turn could cause their health to deteriorate much quicker than if something could have been caught or recognized earlier. Another unfortunate fact is that there are not many facilities yet that have a large enough bore for overweight patients.
For a lot of people the standard units are too tight fitting and undersized. The larger machines not only assist with overweight patient scanning, they also provide comfort and relief for claustrophobics.