The QEII Health Sciences Centre recently became the first medical institution in Canada to acquire a new cervical scanner – a big step forward in women’s health.

The LuViva Advanced Cervical Scan will be used to triage patients who arrive at the QEII's colposcopy clinic with low-grade abnormal PAP tests. The machine delivers results quickly, reducing patient stress, wait times and discomfort associated with cervical biopsy procedures.

Dr. James Bentley, the division head of gynecology oncology at the QEII, says usually if a woman receives an abnormal PAP test from her own doctor, she must learn if it’s a significant abnormality that needs treatment, or a nuisance abnormality that needs only follow up in the community. The waiting list to get tested for low-grade findings at the clinic runs four to six months.

Doctors must perform a biopsy and send the sample to the lab, which can take six weeks for results. That means a woman can wait almost eight months to get the results and a care plan for treatment.

The new device will tell them right away.

“This equipment should avoid unnecessary biopsies by up to 50 per cent,” Dr. Bentley says.

The process is less invasive and could avoid 300 to 400 biopsies per year, saving time and money. A single biopsy costs approximately $100 for the healthcare system.

Dr. Bentley began using the scan in late 2014 and will continue to explore its possibilities in an auditing process in 2015.

“What we’re looking for is implementation and a step-wise change in practice, perhaps leading to a nurse-run clinic in the end,” he says. “That would change the whole structure and allow us to see the patients we need to see in a timely fashion.”

They could see more women in less time with the scan. The nurse-run clinic could start within a year. Wait times would then drop to 12 weeks total, a major improvement over the current eight months.

The LuViva Advanced Cervical Scan was purchased completely through a philanthropic gift to the QEII Foundation from IMP Group Limited’s CAN-med Healthcare Division.

Stephen Plummer, the chief executive officer of IMP Group, says “We were pleased to donate this equipment to the QEII. It is state-of-the-art and will save a lot of clinical biopsies and stressful wait times for women.”