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

Agassiz study to look at drone use for pesticide application

The study will be the first in Canada to use drones to apply pesticides to farm fields

Delays en route for Highway 7 in Harrison Mills

Road resurfacing will cause month-long delays for drivers travelling through Harrison Mills

The luckiest man in Agassiz finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Chilliwack’s pediatric observation unit gets financial shot from trades workers

Unions and contractors donate more than $30,000 to Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Missing Chilliwack man not heard from since January

Kristopher Shawn Couture, 25, last made contact with family from Edmonton

VIDEO: Quadriplegic man takes flight over Harrison Mills

Jim Ryan hasn’t moved his arms or legs for three years, but that didn’t stop him from paragliding

Trial slated to start Monday for accused killer of Abbotsford cop

Oscar Arfmann faces first-degree murder for death of Const. John Davidson

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Body found after fire at Surrey homeless camp, police say

Surrey RCMP say the body was found inside a shed after firefighters extinguished the fire

RCMP probe hit-and-run of Richmond senior

The man, who is in his mid-70s, was walking with his wife when he was allegedly struck

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Coquitlam crash kills one person, injured two others

Investigators with the RCMP criminal crash unit are working to determing the cause of the incident

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

Most Read