Rotorua Daily Post health and business reporter

New $1.3m MRI scanner for Rotorua (+video)

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A new state-of-the-art $1.3 million MRI machine at Rotorua Hospital will allow a wider range of scans to be carried out - and may result in fewer children being put under general anaesthetic.

The new scanner is the most advanced MRI technology available in New Zealand, and has been described by Lakes District Health Board head of radiology and radiologist Dr Carl Huxford as one of the most exciting things to happen in the department in the past decade.

Dr Huxford said the quality of the imaging and efficiency of the imaging was cutting edge.

Because of the new technology they will now be able to use the machine for prostate cancer, which the previous MRI machine was not capable of doing very well.

In the past, patients had to go to Tauranga for MRIs.

It would also be able to get higher quality imaging in patients who weren't perfectly still, which meant fewer children would need a general anaesthetic for diagnostic imaging, he said.

MRI grade medical radiation technologist James Whittaker and MRI medical radiation technologist Carla Judd with Rotorua Hospital's new MRI machine. Photo/Stephen Parker
MRI grade medical radiation technologist James Whittaker and MRI medical radiation technologist Carla Judd with Rotorua Hospital's new MRI machine. Photo/Stephen Parker

As the new gantry (the hole in the machine that the patient goes through) is shorter and wider, staff thought children would be less scared and therefore more co-operative, which might further reduce the need for some general anaesthetic cases.

Dr Huxford said staff and the DHB wanted to provide the best imaging possible and this meant regularly updating the medical imaging equipment.

The new scanner has been working since early this month, with lighter than normal bookings because staff were being trained in its use.

It is now operating at full capacity.

In the year to the end of June, 2385 MRI scans were carried out at Lakes DHB.

MRI scans are used for cancer staging, especially brain, liver, pancreas, bone, gynaecological and rectal cancers. The scans are also used for the assessment of muscle and skeletal conditions, and are being used more often for gallstone-related conditions and inflammatory bowel disease.

MRI in Rotorua
• MRI is magnetic resonance imaging
• 2385 scans performed in the year to end of June 2016
• Used for cancer staging
• Also used for assessment of muscle and skeletal conditions
• Increasingly used for gallstone conditions and inflammatory bowel disease

- Rotorua Daily Post

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