The nine tonne, $6 million Magnetic Resonance Positron Emission Tomography machine, or MR PET, was funded by community donations through the Good Friday Appeal.

RCH Neurologist Dr Simon Harvey said the MR PET combined the most effective medical scanning procedures, Medical Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET), into one piece of equipment for the first time.

“For our young patients, some of whom require sedation and even general anaesthetic to undergo these important but intimidating procedures, the MR PET will means fewer scans, and therefore a more positive experience,” Dr Harvey said.

“It also means more accurate diagnoses, because in addition to giving us high quality MRI and PET scans in one session, the MR and PET will be accurately overlaid into one image.

What is a PET scan? 

PET is a form of metabolic imaging – an imaging technique that uses radioisotopes and provides critical information about the metabolic state of body tissues. Doctors use PET scans to identify and monitor tumours, areas of inflammation and sites of seizure activity.

What is an MRI scan?

MRI is form of structural imaging – an imaging technique that provides doctors with critical information about the structure and function of body tissues.

“This will show us, very precisely, the location of tumours, malformations and sites of inflammation in the body, many of which might not be visible with the single images.

“The MR PET will be used to assess and diagnose a wide range of patients, but it has particular advantages for children with certain forms of cancer, uncontrolled epilepsy and inflammatory disorders.”

– RCH Neurologist Dr Simon Harvey

The MR PET was transported to The Royal Children’s Hospital on a semi-trailer and manoeuvred into its new, purpose-built, copper-lined lab in the Medical Imaging Department via a 20 tonne forklift and a team of eight people. The copper shielding is to ensure the operation of the MR PET magnet does not affect other areas of the hospital.

Posted December 2016

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