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  • From the first X-ray machine in 1908, to today’s state-of-the-art Medical Imaging Center, Rome Memorial Hospital has kept pace with new technology to see inside of patients

     When it comes to medical imaging, Rome Memorial Hospital has been on the leading edge of technology since… well, since the beginning of the technology itself. 

    The ability to produce and detect electromagnetic radiation to create X-ray images was first discovered in November of 1895, by German physics professor Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen.   Word of Roentgen’s discovery quickly spread to the United States where, in February of 1896, the first X-ray of a patient in America was taken in a physics lab at Dartmouth College.  Just 12 years later, in 1908, the first X-ray machine was installed at Rome Hospital’s Garden Street location. 

     “I think of how quickly Rome Hospital got its first X-ray machine and it’s pretty amazing,” said Mark Snyderman, vice president of planning/outpatient services at Rome Memorial Hospital.  In its early days, the hospital depended upon the generosity of the community for its operations.  The first X-ray unit was funded by “Hospital Sundays.” Churches donated a portion of their collections to help ensure that the hospital was well-equipped to serve the medical needs of the community.

     Today’s images continue to amaze, just like Roentgen’s original X-ray of the bones of his wife’s hand did in 1895.  

    “We have so many more options to see what is going on inside of patients and detect disease earlier when it’s most treatable,” said Snyderman, who served as a radiologic technologist in the U.S. Air Force, before he started his career at the hospital in 1981 as manager of the Radiology Department. 

    “When I started my career here, we were still using dark rooms and dipped films that took up to 20 minutes to develop,” he said. “With today’s digital technology, now we can take the picture, see the picture and have the radiologist read the image within seconds.” 

    “Today’s CT technology can capture images of a beating heart in five heartbeats, an organ in one second, and perform a whole body scan in 10 seconds.  Using sound and magnetic waves respectively, ultrasound and MRI give us the power to see inside without exposure to radiation,” Snyderman added. 

    “Good doctors working with the best imaging tools can do so much more for patients today.  For example, in the 1950s, they did not have the ability to look for blockages in heart arteries.  With quality medical imaging today, doctors have much more information available to them to help them manage their patients’ problems and add years to their lives.” 

    As Snyderman’s career with the hospital advanced from director of radiology to vice president of planning/outpatient services, he has taken great pride in the investments that he hospital has made in medical imaging technology. 

    “Although medical imaging technology requires a significant financial commitment, Rome Memorial Hospital has always been on the leading edge,” Snyderman said.  The hospital’s Board of Trustees is aware of the benefit of quality medical imaging for patients and has been willing to make the investment.  “Early detection of disease is the key to early intervention and treatment,” he said. 

    Thirty years ago, the Radiology Department had five X-ray machines and one nuclear medicine camera.  Today, the hospital’s Medical Imaging Center includes: 

    • Top-of-the-line GE High Definition MRI equipment.  MRIs are used to examine many parts of the body from the spine and joints, to the brain, arteries and other organs. 
    • Two CT scanners, a 64 slice and a 16 slice.  The 64 slice scanner also includes special systems that reduce radiation dosage by up to 40 percent.  CT scanners were first used at RMH in 1984, when 1,600 scans were performed that year.  This year, the hospital will perform  almost 14,000 CT scans already. 
    • Five state-of-the-art ultrasound units, which can detect tumors and also give parents a first look at their baby growing inside expectant mothers. 
    • Two nuclear medicine cameras.  This diagnostic procedure involves the use of radio-active dyes injected into precise areas of the body that need to be studied.  Using a nuclear medicine camera, photos and videos of the “glowing” affected areas can be taken. 
    • Three digital radiology (x-ray) rooms. 

    “Every modality has its own uniqueness,” Snyderman explained.  "One may be more appropriate for a certain type of diagnosis than another.” 

    The Medical Imaging Center also includes the Women’s Imaging Center and Breast Center, where digital mammograms are performed as well as breast ultrasound, breast MRI, stereotactic breast biopsies, ultrasound and MRI guided breast biopsies, and bone density testing. 

    “It’s not just the technology and the amazing quality you can get from the newest equipment,” Snyderman said.  “You also have to have the right people. At Rome Memorial Hospital, we bring together some of the best trained technologists and radiologists to deliver quality diagnostic results for our patients.  Our board certified radiologists received their training at major medical schools such as Harvard, Duke, Lahey Clinic, SUNY Health Sciences Center and Tufts.” 

    “Our team of professionals understands that even routine screenings can be scary,” added Jacqui Floyd, assistant director of medical imaging at Rome Memorial Hospital. “Quality customer service means exceeding the patient’s expectations. We do all we can to help alleviate our patients’ anxiety during testing.” 

    Snyderman said that he is extremely proud of the way that Rome Memorial Hospital has kept pace with the advancements in medical imaging.  “And yet, we continue to ask the question, how do we make it better,” Snyderman said.  “We can always do better.”