Ensuring the safety of patients who use the deployable CT systems

Dr Witaya Sungkarat, a research collaborator with Chulabhorn Hospital, shares more about the ‘air exchange’ technology that helps to keep patients who use their innovative ‘Deployable CT Systems’ safe.

It started with an innocuous observation from Dr Witaya Sungkarat’s friend – an infection control specialist – about how long it took, as well as the amount of effort needed, to clean and disinfect a CT room after scanning a COVID-19 patient.

It planted the seed of an idea in Dr Witaya’s mind to design a system that could disinfect a CT scanning room in matter of minutes, rather than hours.

This concept was eventually incorporated into Chulabhorn Hospital’s ‘Deployable CT Systems for Epidemic Crisis and Battlefields’ project, which Dr Witaya worked on as a research collaborator.

Explaining the inspiration behind the extreme air exchange rate system that will be installed in Chulabhorn Hospital’s Deployable CT system – which can travel around the country on a trailer – Dr Witaya said: “Usually after scanning a patient, especially one that is found to have COVID-19, the cleaning and disinfection process takes around two hours, as it needs to be thorough.

“So, I helped to design a system for the Deployable CT system that will exchange the whole air in the room in about a minute. Combined with the skin-safe 222-nm ultraviolet system, the CT scanning room can be cleaned and ready for the next patient within three minutes, thus allowing us to see a lot more patients than the conventional.”

Dr Witaya emphasised that patient safety was a key factor the team working on the project paid close attention to, as they designed the Deployable CT system to be suitable for use in areas which potentially had a higher risk of airborne contamination.

“The whole idea of the mobile CT system is so that it can travel anywhere in the country,” Dr Witaya said. “So, it can be used, for example, in an area where a viral pandemic is rampant, or even on the battlefield where bio-chemical warfare is happening.

“As such, we had to ensure that the air would be non-contaminated for the patients, and that they will not catch any airborne disease – be it COVID-19, tuberculosis, or a bio-chemical contamination –from using the CT scanner.”

Indeed, the Deployable CT system is even designed to minimise physical contact, with Artificial Intelligent (AI) technology being used to conduct the scan of each patient.

And Dr Witaya believes that the advanced technology being used by the Deployable CT system will provide a high quality experience for the patient.

“I think the patient will be impressed with how easy and safe it will be to use the system,” said Dr Witaya. “All the patient needs to do is go into the room, lie on the bed, and let the CT scanner do the automatic scan without any worry of catching a virus.”

Thanks to the use of AI for the Deployable CT system, its manpower requirements are lean, with Dr Witaya estimating that a maximum of three staff – a nurse, a technician, and a cleaning staff – is needed at any one time. Radiologists are not required to be on-site, as the results of the scan will be sent to the cloud, where it can be accessed by the relevant healthcare staff from within their own hospitals.

And this, according to Dr Witaya, will lead to a higher quality of care for patients.

“With this system, we can push the imaging data to the cloud, allowing the radiologist in the hospital to access the pictures, even though he might be in a different area,” Dr Witaya elaborated. “So that means the patient can be diagnosed by experienced radiologists.

“If needed, we can even get help from other radiologists or healthcare professionals as the information is all up in the cloud. Therefore, I would say the quality of care may be even better for the patient.

“What’s more, with the immediacy of the system, we are able to get the results of the scan within minutes. This allows us to diagnose the patient quickly, and as such, enable them to get whatever treatment they need as soon as possible.”