Shriners EOS unit helps Laval boy aim for the stars
A 10-year-old Laval boy, born with a serious back problem that might have stopped him from becoming an astronaut, may one day see his dream come true. He’s become one of the first patients to benefit from cutting-edge medical imaging technology recently acquired by Montreal’s Shriners Hospital for Children.
Less radiation risk
The hospital’s new EOS 3D unit — a system that is said to offer superior imaging while minimizing the patient’s exposure to radiation — was unveiled to a phalanx of media and fez-wearing Shriners at the hospital on March 17. The Montreal Shriners is the first of the organization’s 22 hospitals to get such such a system.
The machine’s ability to use nearly 90 per cent less radiation than traditional X-ray units is considered a distinct advantage in treating children. Children are much more susceptible to the side-effects of X-rays. It is suspected, for instance, that girls exposed to X-rays have a higher rate of breast cancer when they are older.
For 10-year-old Gabriel Cobzaru of Laval, access to the new machine means that doctors at the Shriners Hospital will be able to keep a closer eye on his spinal column as he grows, without exposing him to an unnecessary risk from radiation.
In the past, according to Dr. Jean Ouellet, orthopaedic surgeon at the Montreal Shriners Hospital, surgeons had to rely on two-dimensional images when they were getting ready to operate. “The EOS system we have now eliminates the guesswork,” he said. “We can see what is happening to the joints when the child is upright.”
Born with three vertebrae that were tethered together, Gabriel underwent surgery last year, in which one vertebrae was removed and steel rods and screws were inserted to straighten out the extreme curvature of his back. Following treatment at the Shriners Hospital, Gabriel’s condition improved to the point that he now wants to become an astronaut when he grows up.
“He will require these X-rays twice a year, probably until he stops growing,” said his mother Lacramiara Pliot who was on hand at the hospital for the EOS unit’s unveiling. “We are very happy that there won’t be so much radiation, yet he can be followed closely,” she added.
A Nobel winner
The EOS system, which is largely the result of research on high energy particle detection which won the 1992 Nobel Prize for physics, was manufactured by a company headquartered in France. The machinery, which looks like a transporter unit from a Star Trek episode, required the construction of an entirely new examination room at the Montreal Shriners Hospital, complete with lead-lined walls and new electrical installations.
“It’s mainly intended for spinal work, but we can use it on other parts of the body,” said François Champion, chief technologist at the Shriners Hospital. Bringing the unit to the hospital was made possible by a donation of $565,000 by the Ladies of the Oriental Shrine of North America, Bokhara Court No. 22.
Four-year-old Shriners Hospital patient Maika Bouff ard of Quebec City helps cut the
ribbon for the new EOS unit. From the left, Dr. Jean A. Ouellet, orthopedic surgeon
at the Shriners Hospital, Gabriel Cobzaru from Laval, Céline Doray, executive-director
of the hospital, Patricia Martin, a member of the Ladies of the Oriental Shrine of
North America, little Maika, and Dr. Robert Drummond, chairman of the Montreal
Shriners Hospital board.