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MRI upgrade at Woodend Hospital completed with investment of £1.85m

By Kyle Ritchie

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Patients and staff alike are feeling the benefit after investment of £1.85 million into upgrading the Hutchison MRI Centre and the surrounding radiology department facilities at Woodend Hospital.

The magnet within the MRI scanner has been upgraded, rather than replaced, as a more sustainable choice.

This involved removing the scanner, stripping the magnet down to its core, and then upgrading.

Superintendent MRI radiographer Laura Farquharson and clinical scientist Mark Pether in the control room of the Hutchison MRI Centre. Picture: NHS Grampian
Superintendent MRI radiographer Laura Farquharson and clinical scientist Mark Pether in the control room of the Hutchison MRI Centre. Picture: NHS Grampian

Making sustainable choices whenever possible is a key part of NHS Grampian’s Plan for the Future.

Alongside this, a state-of-the-art acceleration package has been added to the scanner. This is only available in a few centres in Scotland and enables faster imaging and superior quality images.

This shortens the length of time people are required to be in the scanner, improving their experience, while also helping staff make the most accurate diagnosis or treatment decisions.

Mark Pether, a clinical scientist, said: “The quality of the scans has improved significantly with the new upgrade.

"The images produced are much more detailed and offer the team a higher quality of clinical information, which benefits both staff and patients alike.”

Laura Farquharson, a superintendent MRI radiographer at Woodend, said: “MRI scanning can take a long time and it can be noisy, and uncomfortable to lie in the machine for a prolonged period.

"By speeding up scanning time – and reducing the noise generated – we are aiming to make this a more comfortable experience for patients.

"This makes it easier for them to remain in the positions needed to capture accurate scans, making the job more straightforward for our team.”

The changes made within the department include improvements to the reception, patient interview room and changing area, toilets and waiting area.

The new reception provides better facilities for administrative staff, allows phone conversations with patients in a confidential environment, and the new waiting area is a bright and open area, improving the patient environment.

Sharon Jones, radiographer manager, said: “The upgrade has made such a difference, not only improving the experience for patients, but also providing a much better working environment for the team.”

The Hutchison MRI Centre is named in honour of Professor James Hutchison, part of the pioneering Aberdeen team who built the world’s first MRI scanner.

The techniques he and his colleagues developed are still used today, in hundreds of thousands of MRI devices around the world.

MRI is useful because it gives information which other types of scanners cannot provide.

It provides excellent images of the soft tissues in the body like muscles and internal organs which are often affected by diseases.

It is the best and sometimes only option to detect certain types of diseases like cancer.

Another advantage of MRI is that it can produce many different types of images, each giving the doctors different information which they can use to make the best diagnosis possible.

Having a MRI is also very safe because it does not use any radiation like x-rays. This means it is a safe option in pregnancy, for children and patients who might need many follow up scans as part of their treatment.

Historically, an MRI scan could be quite long – this is because the longer a scan took the higher the quality of the final image.

As technology has improved it has become possible to take better quality images in less time, which is good for patients in the scanner and for reducing waiting times.

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