Diagnostic scans are a key part of assessing patients for surgery. (Black Press files)

MRI diagnostic scans increasing with night-time operations in B.C.

Procedures double for Northern Health, improving for Fraser, Island

Running diagnostic scanners up to 24 hours a day in B.C. hospitals has worked better than expected, particularly in the north, Health Minister Adrian Dix says.

The purchase of two private magnetic resonance imaging scanners in Abbotsford and Surrey last year brings the number of MRI scanners running 24 hours a day to 10, Dix said Thursday. Another new MRI machine at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Cranbrook is operating more than 100 hours a week, reducing wait times for diagnosis in the region.

MRI procedures for Northern Health doubled to more than 14,000 last year, providing communities such as Terrace and Vanderhoof with similar service to that available in the Lower Mainland, Dix said.

MRI scans are more effective for assessing the need for surgery in soft tissue injuries, while CAT scans are typically used to assess injuries involving bones.

Dix said wait times for MRI have been significantly decreased, mostly through extended hours of operation. He did not provide wait time statistics, but said the situation has improved significantly from two years ago when patients were waiting up to a year for scans to determine if they need surgery.

“This is fundamentally important when you are waiting in pain,” Dix said.

READ MORE: Stopping strokes before they strike

READ MORE: B.C.’s private clinic crackdown begins

Dr. David Robertson, in charge of diagnostic services for Island Health, said the shortage of MRI services was resulting in patients being referred for CAT scans instead, and the additional capacity has been well received.

“I was called by a patient who was actually grateful to have an appointment at 3 a.m. because he didn’t have to deal with parking and traffic,” Robertson said.

Dix said he’s had similar reports from around the province, with appointments in the early hours proving to have a better completion rate than those booked in daytime.

The health ministry reports that there were 233,369 MRI procedures performed in 2018-19, up from 189,376 in the previous year. For the current fiscal year that began April 1, an additional $5.25 million has been budgeted for a target of 248,369 MRI scans annually starting this year.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Former Fernie Ghostrider re-signs with Vancouver Canucks

Josh Teves has signed a two-year contract with the NHL team

Motor vehicle incident in Sparwood results in death of dump truck driver

An individual has died after the dump truck they were driving went… Continue reading

Fernie chainsaw carver wins big at Logger Days

Michael Penny placed 3rd at Powell River Logger Sports, last weekend

UPDATED: RCMP confirm one death in accident

Two motorcycles ran into the back of a vehicle towing a boat trailer on highway near Cranbrook

Survivor of near-drowning in Elk Valley lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Most Read