What do you get when you combine a high-speed CT (computerized tomography) scanner with a powerful computer workstation?

Realistic, 3-D color images that capture depth, context and detail of the imaged area - and are invaluable diagnostic tools.

"We're making diagnoses we couldn't otherwise make," says Dr. Michael Cunningham, director of Seattle Children's Craniofacial Center.

The Latest Step in the Evolution of CT

3-D imaging is the latest step in the evolution of CT technology. Although the hospital has had a version of 3-D imaging for more than 10 years, the current system is a huge leap forward.

Children's high-speed scanner and powerful Vitrea 2 computer workstation are the only such three-dimensional imaging system at a pediatric hospital in the region.

The system's many practical advantages over previous imaging technologies - speed, accuracy, versatility - have Children's physicians very excited.

Radiologist Dr. Raymond Sze recalled the reaction of a group of surgeons as they witnessed their first demonstration of the Vitrea 2's wizardry: "You could almost hear the thunk of their jaws hitting the floor."

The clarity of 3-D images also improves communication between doctors and patient families. "I can show a family what's wrong with their child and they can understand it easily," says Dr. Cunningham.