BY JANET MANDELSTAM
Time and technology have brought many changes to the field of radiology since four doctors incorporated as Southern Indiana Radiological Associates (SIRA) in 1964. New, increasingly sophisticated equipment has become available; additional services have been added; and more physicians have joined the practice.
Today, as it observes its 50th year in business, SIRA’s staff of 14 radiologists and two radiation oncologists uses the latest medical imaging technology to find and diagnose disease or injuries. What started simply with X-rays now includes CT and PET scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, breast imaging, and radiation oncology.
Dr. Bruce Monson has seen many of these changes since he joined SIRA 20 years ago. A specialist in body imaging (CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds), he has spent most of the last decade focused on mammography and breast biopsies.
Computers, Monson says, have transformed the way the SIRA team works. “CT scans, for example, have been around since the 1980s. It used to take 15 to 20 minutes to do a CT of the head; now it takes 30 seconds. We can do a whole body in a minute. We used to do 10 scans a day; now we can do 70.”
And computers can take the data and create a three-dimensional image, he says. “It’s amazing what that has allowed us to do. All of our equipment is now computer driven, even basic X-rays. Where we used to read X-rays on film, now all images are read on a computer screen.” Mammography at SIRA migrated from film to digital imaging in 2008.
That means SIRA doctors can easily and quickly send images to the physicians who ordered the tests or to other doctors anywhere for consultation.
Additional services that SIRA offers include nuclear medicine, screening for osteoporosis, and specialized diagnostic X-rays, including images of the colon, kidneys, esophagus, and joints.
Recognizing that some patients may be worried or frightened, SIRA explains each procedure on its website, describes what to expect during the test, and says its staff will “try to meet you where you are emotionally as well as physically.”
Services are provided both at IU Health Bloomington Hospital and at SIRA’s outpatient center at 500 S. Landmark Ave. And SIRA, in conjunction with the hospital, established a mobile mammography unit that provides breast health services to women at work, at churches, and at physicians’ offices.