MRI scanner up and running

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MRI medical imaging technologists scan and observe a patient as part of applications training on the MRI scan bed. Photo: Supplied

SOUTHLAND’S new $2 million MRI scanner scanned its first patients last week.

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, which was made in the Netherlands by Philips Healthcare, was the first of its kind in New Zealand and had been installed in Southland Hospital’s Radiology Department during the past seven weeks.

It replaced the MRI scanner the Southland community fundraised to buy 16 years ago and, while it had served the community well since then, the new scanner was better equipped to meet modern needs.

Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming said the advantages of the  new scanner included a 70cm bore, which allowed for larger patients to be scanned in
Southland.

The new machine would be more comfortable for patients, as it included a special screen
to help patients relax, follow directions, minimise motion, reduce stress and the need for sedation.

It would also provide greater image quality for scans and would be 80% quieter to operate.

The new BlueSeal magnet technology required less helium than traditional MRIs, which was important in a site like Invercargill where helium was difficult and expensive to get on-site quickly.

“Installation of the Philips Ambition MRI scanner marks the successful completion of the
first phase of the upgrade of Southland Hospital’s Radiology Department.

‘‘Phase two, which is hoped to start in coming months, is to expand the treatment, consent
and patient waiting areas to improve comfort, confidentiality and workflow in the MRI suite.”

Mr Fleming thanked Pacific Radiology and St John for going “above and beyond” to assist
the health board with the urgent inpatient and outpatient scans during the seven-week installation period.

While the Radiology Department had worked to reduce waiting lists prior to the downtime for installation, the assistance of Pacific Radiology and St John had been crucial for urgent scans during that time, he said.

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