Changing the face of surgery and saving lives
February 15 2012, 4:28 pm

Intraoperative Magnetic Resonance Imaging System (IMRIS)

We will see the transformative power of the IMRIS resonate both inside and outside Australia. ‘… it’s something everyone can be proud of.’  Dr Tim Cain

Sometimes the best way to attract world-class paediatric outcomes is with a five-tonne magnet. Three years ago, clinical teams from Cardiology, Neurosurgery and Medical Imaging  identified a cutting-edge technology with the ability to dramatically transform diagnostic and surgical procedures, and the process to secure an Intraoperative MRI System (IMRIS) for the new Royal Children’s Hospital began.

Poised in the middle of an integrated suite that includes separate angiography, diagnostic imaging and operating rooms is the state-of-the-art scanner, and at its heart is a magnet worth every gram of its impressive tonnage.

The RCH aims to have leading-edge medical imaging, and the three-room configuration - an Australian paediatric first - promises to elevate it to the next level. Without having to reposition or move the patient, the IMRIS glides directly in and out of the theatres allowing doctors to scan the patient on the operating table.

Gaining timely depictions of changes occurring in the brain during surgery optimises the ability to make immediate surgical decisions, and improves the safety of children undergoing invasive operations. Studies have shown that the IMRIS significantly lowers the probability of repeat surgeries.

Patients from Neurosurgery, Orthopaedics and Cardiology  who are scheduled for pre- and/or post-operative MR Imaging will have fewer transfers and anaesthetic procedures, reduced exposure to additional radiation-based imaging and ultimately less hospital time for young patients.

The super scanner’s ability to simplify surgical and diagnostic services will also reduce stress on hospital resources. Dr Timothy Cain, Director of Medical Imaging, describes how the flow-on effects of the IMRIS suite will streamline medical services: `The advantage is our other areas will be more efficient. There are direct benefits to the patients in the operating theatre, but also improved access to our imaging services for our other patients’.

The capability of IMRIS will also help educate other clinicians. The IMRIS information management system means data can be communicated instantly across the hospital and a sophisticated audio-visual package will allow surgeries to be broadcast live to other hospitals, potentially in interstate or overseas.

Senior MR Technologist Mr Mike Kean, renowned for his ability to `make the machines sing’, highlights the advantages of the scanner’s additional features: `Information from any device plugged into that theatre c can be transferred around the hospital or interstate, so our benefits here will be translated into improving the resources of other surgeons and imaging modality groups.’

The benefits of this technology are incredible: for example, the Director of Neurosurgery, Ms Wirginia Maixner, can be operating in Melbourne whilst simultaneously teaching a paediatric surgeon in Southeast Asia. We will see the transformative power of the IMRIS and its associated audio visual systems resonate both inside and outside Australia, further extending the positive impact of this extraordinary new facility.

As Dr Cain enthuses, `It’s be something everyone can be proud of’.

Funded though the Foundation with monies from the Good Friday Appeal.

The Foundation supports the purchase of life-changing and life-saving equipment used across many departments of the hospital. Find out more about donating for Equipment and Technology here.

This story was featured in the Foundation’s annual review book, The Impact of Giving, read our online version for more stories about the RCH.