South Tyneside District Hospital’s new MRI scanner - the first of its kind in the UK - has arrived and should be up and running for patients by the end of the year.
The scanner’s five-tonne magnet delivered to the hospital, in Harton Lane, South Shields, signalled a crucial stage in the £1.5million project.
The state-of-the-art scanner will use some of the most sophisticated technology in the world, with the aim of revolutionising treatment for patients by providing highly accurate digital images.
The new equipment will enable doctors to diagnose more diseases and conditions - from cancers to sports injuries - in more parts of the body, more quickly.
It replaces the previous MRI scanner, which had been in use since 2004.
Hospital bosses say the investment signals a clear commitment from the South Tyneside and Sunderland Healthcare Group to provide the highest quality of patient care as locally as possible.
With the new equipment now on site, all that remains is to fit out the scan, control and electronics rooms and train staff in readiness for the scanner to come into operation.
Lead consultant for radiology Dr Richard Cooper said: “The new scanner is great news for local patients and I’m delighted that we are so close to it being operational.
“It will be much more efficient. The image quality it provides is fantastic and results will be available much faster.
“It also has amazing potential. For example, it will allow the visualisation of tumours in more detail.
“We are already looking at how we can use it in more fields in the future, such as cardiology.”
Dr Shaz Wahid, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s medical director, said: “We’re very proud to have taken delivery of the new scanner, which is the first of its kind in the UK, and we are very excited about its potential.
“Its arrival demonstrates that, despite the unprecedented financial pressures facing the NHS, we are committed to major investment at South Tyneside District Hospital, in line with our aim of providing local services of the highest quality for local people now and in the future.”
*MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is the name given to an imaging technique which takes very detailed images of the inside of the body.
It uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves, together with an advanced computer system, to build up a series of images through the area under examination.
Patients lie inside a tunnel while being scanned.
The scanner can be used to examine almost any part of the body including the brain and spinal cord; muscles, bones and joints; heart and blood vessels and internal organs, such as the liver, womb or prostate gland