CRA Medical Imaging: Advanced Radiologic Technology and Subspecialized Expertise

By Jenna Haines
Tuesday, August 27, 2019

CRA Medical Imaging offers patients access to subspecialty-trained radiologists and state-of-the-art imaging devices, including the only fully digital PET/CT scanner in the Central New York region.

Nicole Taylor, DO, reads PET images.

Facilitated by a skilled team of providers with an average of more than 20 years in clinical radiology experience, CRA Medical Imaging provides patients in Syracuse, Auburn, Fulton, Central Square, Hamilton and Oswego with convenient access to a robust line of diagnostic imaging and interventional radiology services.

These services include PET/CT, CT, MRI/MRA (magnetic resonance angiography), ultrasound and X-ray imaging; digital and 3D mammography; nuclear medicine; bone density screenings (DXA) radioembolization; needle biopsies; radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation of tumors in the liver, lung, kidney and bone; uterine artery embolization; feeding tube placement; thoracentesis and paracentesis; gonadal vein embolization; vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty; vascular access; and biliary interventions.

The Vereos Digital PET/CT System

In addition to offering a wide range of radiologic services, CRA Medical Imaging is committed to investing in technology capable of delivering the highest quality and most accurate results possible. CRA Medical Imaging’s Medical Imaging Center in East Syracuse, for instance, houses the only all-digital PET/CT scanner in the region — the Vereos Digital PET/CT System.

This scanner can be used for neurological and oncologic imaging, as well as diagnostic CT scans. Using digital photon counting (DPC) technology to convert light into a digital signal, high-speed time-of-flight (TOF) technology and the one-to-one coupling of scintillation crystals to each DPC element, the Vereos system offers approximately twice the accuracy, volumetric resolution and sensitivity gain as Philips’ Gemini TF PET/CT Scanner, a comparable analog scanner.

“For oncology, this advanced image quality means increased lesion detectability,” says Michelle Granny, BRIS, RT(R)(CT)(NM), Clinical Adoption Specialist for Philips and Consultant for CRA Medical Imaging on the Vereos Digital PET/CT System. “We can see smaller cancerous tumors, and we can see them earlier than we would be able to with a traditional, analog PET/CT scanner.”

“More accurate diagnoses lead to a clearer understanding of how to treat patients and what treatments might benefit patients the most. That is why it is important for us to use cutting-edge technology, such as the Vereos Digital PET/CT System, which provides the highest image quality possible despite requiring lower radiation doses and shorter scan times. By using this kind of advanced technology, we are able to deliver superior results and an all-around better patient experience.”
— Thomas Chacko, MD, Partner at CRA Medical Imaging, Medical Director of the Medical Imaging Center and a diagnostic radiologist

Another one of the Vereos system’s primary benefits to patients is an accelerated throughput. A 2017 study published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicinefound that, using the Vereos system, providers could perform quality whole-body PET imaging at a rate of 30 seconds per bed position or faster for average-sized patients (patients with a BMI lower than 28) and 60 seconds per bed position or faster for larger patients (patients with a BMI between 28 and 33). In terms of cumulative table time, this translates to an average of less than seven minutes for average-sized patients and an average of less than 10 minutes for larger patients.

“No one really likes lying on a table for extended periods of time,” says Thomas Chacko, MD, Partner at CRA Medical Imaging, Medical Director of the Medical Imaging Center and a board-certified diagnostic radiologist. “Even shortening the scan time by just a few minutes has a two-fold benefit. First, the patient is more comfortable. Second, this increased comfort leads to better patient participation and a decreased chance of patient motion. This, in turn, leads to even better image clarity and more accurate image reconstructions.”

Additionally, the Vereos system reduces patients’ exposure to radiation.

“We are able to inject a lower radiation dose for the PET portion of the exam, and we are also able to perform the CT scan using lower, individualized doses of radiation without losing resolution,” Granny says. “This can be important for patients concerned about their exposure to radiation. Due to federal regulations on the amount of radiation staff members can be exposed to during diagnostic imaging exams, these reduced doses of radiation allow CRA Medical Imaging to perform more PET/CT scans per week, as well, which ultimately reduces patients’ wait time for appointments.”

Furthermore, Dr. Chacko explains that CRA Medical Imaging is able to ensure that patients and their referring providers are receiving the maximum benefit — improved lesion detectability, faster scan times, increased comfort and safety, and a better all-around experience — of this new imaging device.

“By working with Granny, a consultant from the device’s manufacturer, we benefit from the vast amount of institutional experience that has already been obtained through the implementation of the Vereos Digital PET/CT System and the optimization of its scanning protocols at larger, academic hospitals,” Dr. Chacko says. “We are very excited that we have the opportunity to bring all of that experience and breadth of knowledge into a community setting.”

“We are the only provider in the area with fully digital PET/CT scanning capabilities. Additionally, we offer a full range of radiology services led by an expansive panel of radiologists. In fact, we have 26 radiologists with subspecialty expertise. That is our model for radiology, and it offers both patients and their referring providers a real advantage when it comes to the accuracy and timeliness of their diagnostic care.”
— Mary Ann Drumm, CEO at CRA Medical Imaging

Robert Clark, nuclear medicine technologist, works with a patient

Subspecialized Imaging Interpretation

While diagnostic imaging is largely affected by technology, quality imaging evaluations are ultimately dependent on the interpretative capabilities of a practice’s providers. That is why fellowship-trained radiology subspecialists execute the vast majority of diagnostic evaluations at CRA Medical Imaging.

“We provide subspecialty interpretation in every major area of medical imaging, including cross-sectional imaging, neuroradiology, musculoskeletal radiology, abdominal imaging, breast imaging, oncologic imaging, and vascular and interventional radiology,” Dr. Chacko says. “That is one area where we are quite different from the majority of private practices, particularly within the Central New York region. We offer referring clinicians an academic perspective within a private practice setting.”

Additionally, this expansive, subspecialized team of radiologists allows CRA Medical Imaging to provide high quality, diagnostic imaging results within a relatively short amount of time. While average timelines vary by procedure, Dr. Chacko estimates the majority of reports have a turnaround time within as little as one day. This, in turn, helps CRA Medical Imaging supply referring providers with faster results.

“Our primary goal is to provide quality imaging interpretation in a timely fashion,” Dr. Chacko says. “We really pride ourselves on effective communication with referring physicians.”

Bob Carlson, nuclear medicine technologist

CRA Medical Imaging Sites

  • Medical Imaging Center East — Accredited in nuclear medicine, PET/CT and CT by American College of Radiology (ACR)
  • Diagnostic Imaging Center in Auburn, NY — ACR Accredited in CT, mammography, ultrasound and breast ultrasound
  • Crouse Medical Imaging Service — ACR Accredited in CT, mammography, ultrasound and breast ultrasound

For more information about CRA Medical Imaging, visit or call the office at 315-234-7600.