NHS referrals taken for open-sided MRI scanner
By Ian Birch
A state-of-the-art open sided MRI scanner has launched in the North East giving hope to the 1 in 10 patients referred for an traditional MRI scan who are unable to do so because of claustrophobia or anxiety.
NHS referrals are being taken from northern England and Scotland to the private Newcastle Clinic. According to the clinic, many people suffer long term injuries or have serious undetected problems because they are unable to cope with traditional MRI scanners - because of anxiety or their size.
They also say the new scanner is particularly suitable for people who need accompanying during the test - such as children or the elderly.
MRI scans take non-invasive images of the body which are printed like X-rays and used by specialists for diagnosing problems with the body, tissues or organs.
The model at the Newcastle Clinic is a Signa Ovation and can study the central nervous system, body, joints, extremities, as well as some aspects of the heart and veins.
Shaun Fryer, the clinic's Managing Director, said: "This is a completely open scanner providing a much more comfortable and relaxing environment. It is not enclosed in any way so is particularly ideal for patients who are of large build, who may be claustrophobic, frail or anxious.
“To help keep the patient calm and to promote a stress free experience most patients are able to read, listen to music and have a companion sat with them whilst they are being scanned. This is not possible with a closed scanner.
"It is also very quiet in comparison with a conventional tunnel MRI scanner, so it's much less intimidating for children, who can see their parents and be reassured throughout the scanning process."
Open scanners are available on the NHS too in some areas. The NHS Nuffield Orthopaedic Clinic website details their Fonar MRI scanner which is open on all sides and which it says is particularly suitable for patients with claustrophobia.
NHS referrals make up about 80% of the Newcastle Clinic's MRI scans and it has been taking NHS referrals for 10 years.