The LondonChestHospital, a part of Barts and The London NHS Trust, has installed the first Siemens’ Somatom Definition Flash CT system.

The new system, said to be the first in UK, is used for fast CT speed combined with the lowest radiation dose. The scanner purchase was funded from The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), enabling experts at Barts and The London Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit to undertake cardiac research.

The Definition Flash CT is said to be new to the UK market system that can perform a detailed scan of the entire heart in just 250 milliseconds.

Due to its high scanning speed, patients are exposed to a much lower radiation dose. The heart can be examined at a radiation exposure level that is three times lower than the background radiation a person naturally absorbs in a year.

The new system has a temporal resolution of 75ms, which means that image quality is still high even if a moving object is being scanned. For this reason, the heart does not need to be slowed with beta blockers before a scan to deliver high quality clinical images.

Malcolm Pickering, regional sales manager at Siemens Healthcare, said: “Cardiovascular disease is a growing threat in the UK. A rapid and precise diagnosis is vital for improving patient outcomes. As a new standard in CT, the Definition Flash will assist the cardiac research teams at Queen Mary University of London and The London Chest Hospital by unlocking vital information from deep inside the heart, quickly and accurately.”

Professor Anthony Mathur, head of advanced cardiac imaging at Barts and The London NHS Trust, said: “The Definition Flash will be an invaluable tool for helping in the research of new treatments for cardiovascular disease as it presents a much clearer picture of the workings of the heart.

“The CT will also be a frontline diagnostic tool for patients presenting with chest pains. In future, atherosclerosis can be detected earlier and at a much lower dose than previous CT scanners potentially preventing the serious consequences of a heart condition.”

Dame Sally Davies, professor, director general of R&D at the Department of Health, said: “I am delighted that the National Institute for Health Research is able to fund the purchase of this cutting edge new technology.

“Any new technology that allows us to detect heart problems at an earlier stage while exposing patients to less radiation is a good news. The sooner patients know there is a problem, the sooner they can begin to take action to prevent more serious problems later on.”