Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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FDA conducting ongoing safety review of Mirapex

Pharmacy focus

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting healthcare professionals about a possible increased risk of heart failure with Mirapex (pramipexole), which is used to treat the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

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Meetings and events

Grand rounds

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Upcoming CME conferences

Click below to view a complete list of all scheduled Continuing Medical Education conferences.

CME Newsletter - November 2012 (PDF)

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Won any awards or had an article accepted for publication? Share your news about professional achievements and other items of interest.

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New CT scanner could lead to 'hole' new outlook

Cedars-Sinai's new Lightspeed CT scanner keeps things simple: The bigger the hole, the better the view.

And the scanner, which the Radiation Oncology Department rolled out recently, boasts a pretty big hole – big enough to produce four-dimensional scans. Howard M. Sandler, MD, chair of Radiation Oncology, (pictured above with the scanner) believes this will lead to even better results and images.

"I'm super excited about this piece of technology," says Sandler, who also is the Ronald H. Bloom Family Chair in Cancer Therapeutics. "When (manufacturers) are building a diagnostic CT scanner, they are interested in having the highest-quality images for diagnostic purposes and, as part of that, the machine's design typically has a small hole because it gives them better resolution.

"But for radiation treatment planning, radiation oncologists sometimes want patients to be in certain positions with which the standard-sized doughnut hole often interferes. In a nutshell, we need the hole a little bigger."

The standard CT – or computed tomography – scanner has a bore 70 centimeters in diameter. The GE Lightspeed RT16 CT scanner's bore is 80 centimeters, which is 14 percent greater in diameter, Sandler says.

"While in diagnostics the larger size bore, or hole, might not matter because they are looking at the heart or something in the center of the patient, which is still going to be visual, but in radiation oncology, when we're creating three-dimensional treatment planning, we need every piece of the patient in the scanner," Sandler says. "Secondly, and for patients of any size, sometimes when we are treating them, we need them in an optimal position, such as sticking their arms out to the side or above their head. With this larger bore, we have more freedom to do better positioning."

For nearly 20 years, radiation treatment planning has relied on the three-dimensional model for patients. However, and despite the fact those CT scanners deliver quality images, they aren't always adequate, Sandler says.

One reason for that is because tumors move. Enter the Lightspeed's capabilities to produce 4-D images, which Sandler says will allow doctors to track a tumor's movement during the breathing cycle. Tracking that, he says, can help cut down side effects.

Sandler says Radiation Oncology currently schedules about seven patients per day for radiation treatment planning, and there's even more excitement regarding the scanner's potential. It could be useful in planning treatment of other abdominal tumors, such as pancreatic cancer, in which tumors also move, and in breast cancer.