Diagnostic imaging at the Almonte General Hospital

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by Susan Hanna

Almonte General Hospital
  The Almonte General Hospital’s (AGH) busy Diagnostic Imaging department provides radiology (X-ray) and ultrasound services to patients from Renfrew to Ottawa. 

  “In radiology, we provide general X-rays, stomach x-rays, barium enemas, ECGs (electrocardiograms) and Holter monitors, where a patient wears a machine for 24 to 48 hours that monitors their heart,” says AGH Diagnostic Imaging Director Kathy O’Connell, who has been with the Hospital for 25 years.

Once an X-ray is taken, the image is entered in the Hospital’s Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS). It is then sent electronically to the PACs storage system in Winchester. AGH X-rays are read by radiologists from the Ottawa Hospital.

“We get the X-ray results immediately,” says Kathy. “Before we had PACS, it was a couple of days before we received them.”

Ottawa Hospital cardiologists read the results from Holter monitors. 

The Hospital’s computer technology also permits it to get ECG results within a week, instead of two weeks.

AGH is also part of a diagnostic imaging repository that provides centralized storage for X-rays and other diagnostic images for hospitals in Northern and Eastern Ontario.

The shared imaging archive enables doctors in one hospital to access images and reports acquired at another hospital.

“In ultrasound, we examine almost every area of the body, including the abdomen, pelvis, reproductive system, carotid artery, breast, scrotum, leg veins, arteries, and thyroid,” explains AGH Ultrasound Technologist Angele Crites, who has been with AGH for almost four years. “We are also one of a limited number of hospitals in the area that provide musculo-skeletal ultrasounds and pediatric ultrasounds.”

Taking ultrasounds of joints and muscles, such as knees, hips, rotator cuffs and Achilles tendons, as well as ultrasounds to screen for cancer, keeps the AGH ultrasound department very busy.

“We enjoy very good relationships with the ultrasound departments at the Arnprior and Carleton Place hospitals,” says Angele. “If we get too busy, they cover for us, and visa-versa.”

As is the case with radiology, ultrasound images are uploaded to PACS. Ottawa Hospital radiologists review the ultrasounds and dictate the results, which are typed automatically at AGH. “It often takes no more than two days to get results, although it’s sometimes up to a week,” says Angele.

AGH’s radiology hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. On-call staff are available after hours for emergency cases. The Hospital’s ultrasound hours expanded earlier this year to 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. AGH is currently reviewing community needs to determine whether additional hours of service are required.