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Diagnostic imaging

Alberta Heart acquires new cardiac MR scanner

EDMONTON – The acquisition of a new cardiac MRI scanner at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton means that waits for a heart scan are now a matter of days instead of six months.

The MRI has been running for two months. It is expected to perform more than 1,500 scans each year. It can also perform more detailed scanning than previous machines at the heart institute.

Cardiac MRI scanners typically can only accommodate either children or adults but the new machine can service any patient of any size and weight. This makes the institute a one-stop shop for all cardiac scans in the region.

Cindy Bouw, a respiratory therapist, received a cardiac ultrasound after what cardiologists thought was a silent heart attack in May. Two weeks ago, she was given another test with the new MRI. It indicated the abnormality was a heart defect. “Without this, I would have just kept on going without any idea,” Bouw said.

The institute purchased the machine with the help of a $1-million donation from longtime Edmonton philanthropists Ernie and Cathie Elko (pictured). The couple have consistently helped raise money for the hospital as well as the heart institute.

“Cathie and I both had members of the family with heart problems,” Elko said. “If you read the obituaries, it’s quite scary ... I felt it was very important for us to ensure the facility was well-financed.”

The new technology also helped the institute attract expert cardiac imaging specialist, Dr. Richard Coulden, from Cambridge University in England. “We are now able to do a variety of patients we weren’t able to do before,” he said.

Posted July 28, 2011