State-of-the-art camera reduces radiation doses for sick kids

A new state-of-the-art camera that reduces scanning time and radiation doses for children with cancer and other medical conditions has been installed at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

The CZT digital Gamma Camera, donated by Sargents Pies Charitable Foundation through Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation, is the latest in nuclear medicine technology, offering the ability to evaluate, diagnose and assess the response to therapy of a range of childhood illnesses including cancer, infections, fractures and gastrointestinal disorders.

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The Children’s Hospital at Westmead is the first dedicated children’s hospital in Australia to install the cutting edge digital nuclear medicine technology.

Dr Kevin London, Head of Nuclear Medicine at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, said the camera not only creates clearer pictures, but also reduces overall scan time for patients, making the process more efficient for staff and less overwhelming for children.

“Not only is it faster and more efficient than previous generation gamma cameras, the quality of the exams is consistently higher, which can better help detect, diagnose and monitor the effect of treatment for our patients,” Dr London said.

For eight-year-old Lillyn Bickford, who was diagnosed with stage four Neuroblastoma days after her second birthday, the camera has made an enormous difference.

Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that usually affects children under five years old. Often the cancer begins in the tissue of the adrenal glands and spreads through the blood, growing in other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, bones, liver, and lungs.

After her diagnosis, long scans quickly became routine for Lillyn to track her progress and monitor the growth of her tumour. Just the thought of this used to frighten Lillyn, with the actual scan requiring at least three people in the room to comfort her.

However, since the installation of the new CZT Gamma Camera, Lillyn is no longer scared.

As well as having to spend less time in the scanner, the machine is also fitted with a TV to distract children from the stress and anxiety theycan feel.

Lillyn’s father, Aaron, said Lillyn fell asleep for the first time ever during a scan thanks the new Gamma Camera and is now much more confident with her treatment.

“It's amazing how quick the scan was, and Lillyn isn't dreading going back for another scan anymore,” Aaron said.

“Thanks to this amazing technology, my daughter can get the care she needs, spend less time in hospital and more time being a kid.”.

Lillyn is now is remission, and has a lifetime full of possibilities ahead.

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