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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sarah Simpson Column: Siblings are the best (and the worst, by default)

If my brother-in-law wanted a walk, he was going to have to work for it.

Maple Bay animator helps lead Netflix’s ‘The Willoughbys’

Family comedy with A-list voices has Cowichan Valley ties

CVRD may have to delay 11 capital projects scheduled for 2020

More than 50 of the 81 projects are complete or are schedule for the year

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed:’ Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Most Read