Halifax hospital to put MRI into the ED
January 15, 2019
HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) is installing a point-of-care magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine next to the Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre (QEII). Said to be the first MRI in a Canadian ER, the scanner will enable ER physicians to obtain critical diagnostic information in a timely manner, resulting in better patient outcomes and increased healthcare efficiencies.
The MRI, for brain scans, is being developed by Synaptive Medical Inc. While MRI neuro exams typically take 30 to 60 minutes or more, the company is devising technology to dramatically reduce the time needed for the scans and post-processing.
“A key part of this funded research project will be creating and validating rapid imaging protocols that can be best used in this context,” said Dr. Steven Beyea (pictured), a professor at Dalhousie University and lead scientist at the Biomedical Translational Imaging Centre (BIOTIC), a core research facility of the IWK and QEII Health Centres in Halifax. “This will come from both standard approaches of getting images of the patient as well as through applying new techniques for acquiring and reconstructing data.”
Evry, a superconducting, dedicated head-MRI developed by Synaptive Medical, will be located in the BIOTIC, adjacent to the ER, and will give the QEII emergency department direct access to the MRI, which was previously impossible. Dr. Beyea noted the machine in its initial stages will primarily be for research purposes.
The project will enable the Evry and resulting treatments to be validated against the current standard-of-care and demonstrate its cost-effective impact on Nova Scotia’s health care system.
The Government of Canada is investing $700,000 in the point-of-care MRI through ACOA’s Business Development Program.
The Research Nova Scotia Trust has invested $1,260,160 in the project. The Trust was created by the Government of Nova Scotia to provide continuity of provincial research funding while Research Nova Scotia and the Research Opportunities Fund were established. Health research is a key priority.
Canadian-based Synaptive Medical Inc. is providing $1,368,825 of in-kind support to help develop the advanced point-of-care MRI. Synaptive is a global medical device and technology company solving surgical, imaging and data challenges to improve the quality of human lives.
The combined funding will pay for renovations required to house the MRI at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, and to purchase the MRI magnet and accessories.
As Dr. Beyea noted, “Standard, whole body MRIs, take up a lot of room (1000’s of square feet), and require reinforced flooring as these systems weigh 1000’s of kg and require demolition and access to external venting, which all makes it cost prohibitive to most emergency departments.
“Evry has been developed specifically to overcome these obstacles, and I understand that it has been designed specifically such that it can potentially be a part of emergency department workflows more easily than a conventional MRI. At this time, this technology is of course brand new, and hence it is important to note that this is a collaborative research project and not clinical care.”
He added that, “The goal of the research project is to collect the data needed such that stakeholders can reach evidence-informed conclusions about how this technology works in different patient populations within the Emergency Department and how the technology could potentially be deployed within a healthcare system.
The NSHA provides health services to Nova Scotians and some specialized services to Maritimers and Atlantic Canadians. It operates hospitals, health centres and community-based programs across the province.
“We are committed to creating a strong research and development environment in Nova Scotia – one that drives innovation and economic growth,” said Labi Kousoulis, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, Nova Scotia.
“This investment through the Research Nova Scotia Trust will put a state-of-the-art MRI in the QEII emergency department, providing healthcare teams with up-to-the-minute information about the patients they’re treating. Studying the impact of this new technology will help inform new ways of patient care. This is a great example of how targeted research investments can have a real and lasting impact in the lives of Nova Scotians.”
Meanwhile, Synaptive Medical’s president and founder, Cam Piron, said: “Synaptive created Evry to address a critical need: existing MRI machines face siting requirements that severely limit their ability to reach patients at the point of care. We believe that our MRI holds the potential to help hospitals overcome the barriers that have previously prevented the routine use of MRI for patients in the Emergency Department and other areas of the hospital underserved by MRIs. We’re excited to partner with BIOTIC and NSHA on this exciting project.”