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New MRI scanner for West Suffolk Hospital

Time:       9am

Date:       Saturday, 1st March

Venue:     West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds

A new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner is to be installed at the West Suffolk Hospital on Saturday, 1st March.  Media are invited to photograph the scanner being dropped into place by crane.

The state-of-the-art scanner cost over £1 million including the cost of installation. The West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust bought the scanner with money from the National Lotteryıs New Opportunities Fund along with support from the Eastern Radiology Development Group.

The Siemens MRI scanner will provide cross-sectional images of the entire body without using X-rays. It is three times stronger than the 12 year old equipment it replaces, as well as being more spacious.

By using MRI, doctors can get highly refined images of the body's interior without surgery.  By using strong magnets and pulses of radio waves to manipulate the natural magnetic properties in the body, this technique makes better images of organs and soft tissues than other imaging techniques.  MRI is particularly useful for imaging the brain and spine, as well as the soft tissues in joints.

This new technology will allow the Trust to scan up to 4,800 patients a year ­ five times more than the old scanner, which scanned four patients a day.

"The new scanner will be of great benefit to our patients as it is the imaging method of choice for spine and knee problems," said Claire Moore, senior MRI radiographer.  "It is also invaluable in the diagnosis of cancer and the assessment of neurological complaints."

Claire Moore joined the Trust in August 2002. Hers is a new post created due to the arrival of the MRI scanner. One other post has also been created, making a full team of four cross-sectional radiographers, lead by superintendent Susan Maughn.

"We X-ray lots of patients with back pain," said Claire.  "An X-ray reveals only bone structure, so their back may appear to be completely fine. The MRI scanner shows all the discs, muscles and ligaments, and can reveal brusing within the bone, making diagnosis much easier."

A large crane will drop the scanner, which weighs over five tonnes, into place in a new suite next to the Rainbow ward on 1st March. It will then take a few weeks to install, and should be operational by 1st April.

"All the staff in the radiology department are very excited about the arrival of the new scanner," said Claire. "It is an important piece of technology which will help take the West Suffolk Hospital forward into the 21st Century and will benefit all clinical departments within the Trust."

February 17th, 2003