Mon, 30 Jan 2012
A new £5m clinical imaging centre on Norwich Research Park is equipped with the first MRI scanner of its kind in the country.
Officially launched on January 31, the purpose-built Clinical Imaging and Research Centre is the result of close collaboration between the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and the University of East Anglia (UEA).
Designed to accommodate two brand new scanners - CT and MRI - along with clinical support, the new centre will provide much-needed extra scanning capacity for hospital patients as well as a focus for research partners across the Norwich Research Park.
The Discovery MR750w 3 Tesla MRI scanner from GE Healthcare is one of the most powerful in the world and the first system of its kind in the UK. It has a magnetic field strength twice as great as a traditional MRI scanner and offers a more comfortable patient experience for those who fear enclosed spaces, with a wider opening and the opportunity to go into the scanner feet first for all kinds of scans.
The new patient-friendly design allows radiologists to perform whole body imaging without repositioning the patient.
"This new MRI scanner will be a new platform for joint research themes such as the function of the human gut and obesity which are being studied on the Norwich Research Park," said consultant radiologist Dr Paul Malcolm, MRI lead for NNUH and honorary lecturer at UEA."
"Imaging of the gut without the need for X-rays is increasingly important in understanding how the gut and digestion work. The ability to assess fat in the liver and other tissues with MRI is essential as we try to understand and tackle the problems of obesity."
Prof Andrew Stewart Coats, chief executive of the Norwich Research Park, said: "New developments in imaging technology allow greater insight into how the body works and how it goes wrong to an accuracy we would have never believed possible before.
"We have already begun attracting world-leading clinicians and scientists in gut and bone disease, microbiology and wasting disorders to Norwich, with eight new professors appointed in the last two years. With the technology to visualise the interaction between drugs, food and bacteria in the gut, this really is a quantum leap in our ability to understand how we can maintain healthy bone and muscle as we age or develop chronic diseases. This adds a new dimension to the world-leading science that already exists on the Norwich Research Park in plant and microbial sciences and in food research."
The new building, designed by LSI Architects and built by Morgan Sindall, is visually striking both inside and out, with an exterior cladding of coloured glass which is the first of its kind in the UK.
Bettina Fitt, GE Healthcare's UK general manager, said: "We are delighted that the people of Norfolk will become the first in the UK to benefit from a new generation of scanners that are all about 'humanising radiology' - so making it more comfortable and less stressful for patients and in turn helping radiologists to do their job more effectively.
"As the medical profession grapples with issues such as the ageing population, we expect this type of scanning technology to come into its own as it will enable patients who are suffering from chronic conditions to be scanned more easily."