CONCORD TOWNSHIP, Ohio, May 13, 2015—Lake Health is one of 13 top performing hospitals in Ohio for computed tomography—or CT scan—radiation safety, according to Consumer Reports. Ratings, released by the organization March 5, are based on the number of “double scans” performed and the steps hospitals take to reduce patients’ exposure to unnecessary, excess radiation.
Last year, Lake Health performed 41,225 CT scans, which combine X-rays taken from many different angles to provide cross-sectional images inside the body. These clear, detailed pictures help doctors diagnose illnesses and internal injuries as well as monitor cancer and other diseases. While most patients benefit from the technology, the increased use of the imaging tool has raised concerns about the risks of radiation overexposure.
“CT provides unparalleled diagnostic capabilities that at times can be lifesaving,” explained David Steiger, MD, chief of radiology at Lake Health. “Although the scans deliver more radiation than a single X-ray, the information gathered is so much more valuable than the risk of exposure involved.”
For example, CT scans can help pinpoint the location of a potentially fatal blood clot in the lungs.They can also render three-dimensional images of the heart and coronary arteries allowing cardiovascular experts to check for aneurysms and blockages without the need to perform an invasive catheter angiography. However, Dr. Steiger emphasizes that the technology should always be used judiciously.
“The golden rule in medicine is that the benefit of the procedure should outweigh the risk,” he said.
With patient safety a top priority, Lake Health has the most effective protocols in place to reduce radiation exposure and minimize risk.
“We’ve taken a lot of measures to reduce exposure. The goal is to use the minimum amount of radiation needed in order to achieve diagnostic image quality,” Dr. Steiger said.
American College of Radiology accreditation assures Lake Health’s radiology department is staffed with trained personnel, equipment is properly maintained and protocols produce the lowest exposure in order to acquire a diagnostic image. Other dose reduction strategies include:
Minimizing exposure to radiation begins with selecting appropriate imaging for the specific needs of the individual patient. Lake Health radiologists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to consult with referring providers regarding the relative benefits of imaging tests that may or may not involve radiation exposure and encourage the use of alternative techniques that do not involve radiation (e.g., ultrasound or MRI) when they provide the same information as a CT scan or other test with radiation.
Limiting The Area Imaged
Avoiding over scanning is the simplest way to reduce radiation exposure. Lake Health radiology technologists are trained to carefully utilize low dose scout images to ensure they only image the areas needed. Technologists are also trained to contact the radiologist if a physician requests an examination to be done twice, once with contrast and once without. Often it is not necessary to perform both.
Dose Reduction Technology
All CT Scanners at Lake Health are equipped with automatic dose modulation software that reduces the dose to various body parts during a scan. This software tailors the amount of radiation depending on the body part being imaged and the size of the individual. Lake Health is in the process of installing advanced image reconstruction technology that will reduce already low dose scans by as much as 50 percent while providing images with the same diagnostic information.
To further minimize the potential risks of radiation, quality control procedures are routinely performed to assure all imaging devices are operating correctly and safely. All CT scanners at Lake Health exceed all national standards for radiation safety. Lake Health also has a policy of monitoring and proactively evaluating radiation exposure for CT and interventional radiology procedures. Doses for procedures are compared to standard doses, and threshold levels are used to ensure that all imaging tests use the lowest possible radiation dose.
“Patients who come to Lake Health for any type of imaging, whether it’s CT, MRI or X-ray, or an interventional radiology procedure can feel confident they’re in good hands,” Dr. Steiger said.
CONCORD TOWNSHIP, Ohio, May 4, 2015—I feel better about myself. My weight isn’t holding me back anymore. I can run circles around my children. My diabetes is gone. I walked my daughter down the aisle at her wedding. These are just a few of the personal achievements patients commemorated at the first annual Lake Health Bariatric Success Celebration held May 1 at the Radisson Hotel and Suites in Eastlake.
Thirty-one bariatric surgery patients, who collectively lost a total of 3,663 pounds, celebrated their new bodies and improved overall health with their family members, friends and the Lake Health bariatric surgery team at the gala event. Nationally recognized bariatric surgeon Aviv Ben-Meir, MD, FACS, director of the Lake Health Bariatric Surgery Center, served as master of ceremonies.
“Bariatric surgery has given many of our patients a second chance at life,” Dr. Ben-Meir said. “It was an honor to celebrate with them and share in their joy as they reflected on how far they’ve come and how dramatically their lives have changed since undergoing bariatric surgery.”
At the event, which included dinner and dancing, each patient was recognized and given their moment to shine. Dr. Ben-Meir shared details of each patient’s life-altering transformation, including total pounds lost, personal achievements since bariatric surgery and impressive statistics on the improvement or resolution of obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure for the group.
“The happiness I felt when Dr. Ben-Meir announced my name and seeing how proud my husband was of me opened a floodgate of emotions,” said Willoughby Hills resident Pat Grace, who was one of the patients recognized. “Bariatric surgery has given me the greatest gift of all: freedom from the prison of obesity. I have reclaimed my life. And through this remarkable journey, I have gained respect for myself and I embrace who I am.”
Grace, who had her surgery in January 2014, is a shining example of how weight-loss surgery can transform lives. After riding the rollercoaster of weight loss/weight gain her entire life, bariatric surgery enabled her to lose 140 pounds and achieve better health. With the weight gone, Grace no longer has asthma, hypertension, sleep apnea, gout or high cholesterol.
“Carrying that extra weight for so many years took a toll. I had both knees replaced and three back surgeries and spinal stenosis forced me to stop working,” said Grace, who was a licensed physical therapy assistant at Lake Health for 20 years. “Today, I feel like a completely different person. I have so much more energy than I had previously and I can do things I couldn’t do before, like play with my grandchildren.”
The realization of how radically her life had changed came five months after her surgery, when Grace was at the horse barn with her daughter.
“My daughter has ridden horses since she was young, but because of my size I could never ride with her. I will never forget the day when I had lost enough weight and was finally able to get on a horse. We both burst into tears because it was an activity my daughter and I had always wanted to do together and now we could,” Grace said.
Grace has made it her mission to inspire and support others struggling with obesity. She frequently shares her story at Lake Health bariatric seminars and is now teaching a bariatric water fitness class she created at the Painesville YMCA.
“We provide a judgment-free environment, where no one has to worry about how they look in a bathing suit. It’s a fantastic way to get a low-impact, productive workout without the added stress and strain on your joints due to the buoyancy of the water. This reduces pain, especially if you have arthritis or compromised joints. Doing water aerobics is fun and it enabled me to lose 25 pounds even before my surgery,” Grace said.
The class also provides another venue for Grace to discuss her bariatric surgery experience and sing the praises of Dr. Ben-Meir and his team.
“I know what it’s like to be obese and how it feels to not fit in. Society can be cruel. I want to shout from the rooftops that no one has to go through life feeling trapped and having to plan their entire life around being obese,” Grace said. “I’m so grateful to Dr. Ben-Meir and his staff. They’re genuinely kind and caring and they’ve helped me achieve the healthy and happy life I’ve always wanted.”
Since opening in July 2013, the Lake Health Bariatric Surgery Center has helped men and women successfully lose weight and improve their overall health. Weight-loss surgery is a potentially lifesaving treatment for obese individuals—those who are approximately 100 pounds or more overweight—who have not had success with traditional, weight-loss strategies such as diet modification, exercise, or medication. The Lake Health Bariatric Surgery Center offers three surgical approaches for qualified candidates: laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding.
With an emphasis on individualized care and exceptional service, the Lake Health Bariatric Surgery Center offers a full range of bariatric care services to support patients throughout the entire process, including physical and psychological pre-operative evaluation, free patient support groups, pre- and post-operative nutrition counseling and a lifelong follow-up plan to help patients commit to the lifestyle changes needed to achieve and maintain successful results.
“Bariatric surgery is not only about weight loss, it's about restoring health,” said Dr. Ben-Meir. “As pounds are shed, the majority of patients experience complete resolution or improvement of their high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnea, joint disease, acid reflux and a host of other obesity-associated diseases. This is a true measure of bariatric surgery’s success.”
To learn more about bariatric services at Lake Health, visit lakehealth.org/bariatric to view an online webinar or register for an upcoming educational seminar.