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Monday, May 2, 2011

New Technology Hinders Smuggling


International drug trafficking is heavily frowned upon and millions of dollars are spent every year in an attempt to combat the illegal smuggling of drugs across state and international borders. It has long been understood by officials that it is impossible to stop the flow completely; there will always be drugs that find their way across borders but it is a possible to severely limit the amount that makes it. Technology has allowed officials to see inside places they never could before, human beings and drug dogs can only do so much; with the help of computers and high powered imaging devices authorities have an edge against smugglers.

One new study shows how advanced CT with 3D scanning can assist radiologists better identify ingested or hidden contraband with more accuracy. Newer techniques for wrapping drug packets make them harder to detect on conventional x-rays. "When abdominal radiographs are negative for contraband, but a strong suspicion for drug trafficking remains, our goal is to encourage law officers and medical workers to use CT with 3D scanning as part of their game plan", according to Dr. Barry Daly, lead researcher for the study. Authorities have been using X-Ray technology for quite some time but with limited accuracy, "with drug traffickers becoming more sophisticated and learning to hide contraband items more efficiently, it's hard to identify these items on an ordinary x-ray," Dr. Daly said. "By using CT with 3D scanning, we can go from 90% to 100% accuracy. Although CT scanning is more expensive, it is much more sensitive."

Advanced CT with 3D scanning can also aid health care professionals save peoples' lives. "Drug smugglers can die very quickly if large amounts of pure cocaine or heroin are released and absorbed from a leaking drug packet," Dr. Daly says. "Health care workers, especially in ERs, need to be aware of how to properly use CT scanning to prevent potentially hazardous internal problems for drug smugglers."

The presentation on this study will be delivered by Dr. Daly and his colleagues on Monday, May 2, 2011 at the 2011 ARRS Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

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