A NEW state-of-the-art scanner at the Prince of Wales Hospital is expected to slash the waiting list for diagnostic body scans from two months to one week. The spiral computerised tomography (CT) scanner, which was officially opened yesterday, replaces the hospital's out-dated conventional scanner which was prone to break down and extend waiting lists further. But the new scanner, which was bought with a $10 million donation to the Hospital Authority from the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club, is one of the most advanced pieces of diagnostic equipment in the world. Senior radiographer Paul Chan Po-luk said: ''The arrival of this scanner is very important. The situation was becoming urgent because the old scanner was out of order from time to time due to its age.'' The CT scanner, which is the best of its kind in the territory, will be able to scan about 40 patients each day - more than twice as many as the hospital's 10-year-old scanner. Mr Chan said: ''One of the most important things about this new scanner is that it is much faster than the old model but will mean far more efficient and accurate diagnoses.'' A single scan will now take just one second, compared to 11 seconds with the old equipment. Mr Chan added: ''Whereas scanning a patient's torso used to take us half an hour, it now takes us about 60 seconds.'' The scanner's slip-ring technology means that, unlike the old model, the X-ray tube rotates continuously, making the scanning process much faster. The old equipment could produce only two-dimensional pictures of the body but the new scanner can create high-quality three-dimensional computerised images, helping doctors to give far more accurate diagnoses. Housed in a new suite in the hospital's Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Organ Imaging, the scanner will provide a number of specialities with an important diagnostic tool. The detailed pictures produced by the scanner will provide doctors in areas including neurosurgery, plastic surgery and orthopaedics with invaluable information on their patients' condition. The scanner, which can examine every organ of the body in detail, will also be used in the diagnosis of cancer. But although the equipment is among the world's most advanced it is user-friendly and will not require extra staff to carry out the scanning operation. The new suite was opened by chairman of the hospital's governing committee Peter Woo Kwong-ching and the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club's director of finance and central services Paulus Lee Sien-cheong. Hospital chief executive Alison Reid added: ''The hospital is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year but we must not lose sight of the fact that a lot of our equipment is also 10 years old and has become out-of-date. ''Obviously the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club realises this and we are very grateful for its donation.''