A NEW $1.9 million MRI scanning machine at the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) is set to bring enormous benefits to Tasmanian patients.
Jointly funded by the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania (UTAS), the state-of-the-art technology is part of the UTAS Medical Science Precinct development, which was completed in 2013.
The location of the precinct means that world-class research and teaching in medical science takes place virtually next door to the RHH.
The director of medical imaging at the RHH, Dr Michael Carr, said the new MRI unit represented an investment in the state’s future healthcare.
“[The machine’s] open design is more user-friendly for children and larger patients, and we are less likely to need to sedate patients who suffer from claustrophobia,” he said.
“It also has a lower magnet strength than our 3T MRI unit, so we can use it for patients fitted with medical devices such as stents, clips and pacemakers.”
UTAS vice-chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen, who officially opened the facility, said magnetic resonance was a highly sophisticated and expensive imaging technique and the partnership between the university and the state government had improved the opportunities for patients to undergo the testing that the scanner provided.
“This is a shining example of what can be achieved with the university and the state government working together and the benefits for the community when these forces are combined,” he said.
Menzies Research Institute director Professor Thomas Marwick said clinical researchers as well as hospital clinicians were using the new facility.
“The Tasmanian community has among the highest rates of cardiovascular disease in Australia and this equipment meets the needs of that community,” he said.
“The work we can now do for patients within the RHH is a great example of how our research at Menzies is directly applicable to the illnesses that are prevalent in the Tasmanian community.”
The Minister for Health, Michael Ferguson, and the Speaker of the House of Assembly and Member for Denison, Elise Archer, welcomed the opening of the new technology.
“The Tasmanian Government is pleased to have helped the university reach its $90 million fundraising target for the second stage of the Medical Science Precinct, which will expand our medical research capabilities and further build on the Menzies’ world-class reputation,” Mr Ferguson said.
Ms Archer said the facility was “an asset” to Tasmania’s public health system.
“It ensures we are not only meeting the needs of the community but providing a less stressful experience for patients,” she said.
The Royal Hobart Hospital department of medical imaging funded the building works to accommodate the machine and is funding staffing and ongoing equipment maintenance.
In addition to the purchase of the new scanner, the funding has allowed the upgrading of the second scanner in the MRI suite.