Wolfson hospital gets the Southeast's first portable MRI for children
If a pediatric patient needs repeated scans or if transport to an imaging lab could have adverse effects, the new Swoop imaging system is a "game-changer."
Philipp Aldana well remembers a very ill young patient last year who needed an MRI scan because of "medical deterioration."
The patient was so medically fragile that even the trip from the room to the imaging lab was a danger, said Aldana, co-medical director of the Stys Neuroscience Institute at Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville.
"It took us an hour to get the MRI, and by the time we got the MRI, the kid's condition had deteriorated," Aldana said. "It delayed further treatment. But that's as fast as we could go because the child was very unstable, on a breathing machine. ... Even in the MRI scanner, the patient was quite unstable and they had to pull the patient out several times."
That is why he pushed for a 59-inch-tall magnetic resonance imaging system to come to Wolfson. Aldana watched Tuesday as Wolfson's lead diagnostic imaging technician rolled the new Swoop Portable MRI Imaging System up to a bedside to simulate a scan on a child dummy.
"If we had this machine, we probably could have gotten the scan much, much more quickly and not had to move the patient all the way down to the MRI scanner." he said. "It's much more risky to transport a critically ill patient. That's why they are in the ICU. They don't take well to transport because they are very, very sick. And if we have this machine, as you can see, they don't even have to leave their bed."
Hospital imaging director Bonnie Hellard agreed as she watched the dummy's head moved inside the Swoop's transparent head scanner before the hum of a scan occurred within minutes. The ability to get a real-time image of an injured child's head injury at bedside is "a tremendous savings" of time and stress on the child and team.
"The angst that we can relieve on the patient and family's side is by being able to take care of them within their own room," Hellard said. "The family can stay by the bedside; the patient is only moved within their bed, only slid into the machine. They don't even have to leave the floor. And then the amount of preparation that is saved on the travel teams side from the nursing to the respiratory technologist as they prepare to leave the floor, then transport a potentially unstable patient across the hospital for an MRI."
Wolfson Children’s Hospital is the first pediatric facility in the Southeast to use the new portable MRI system. As of Tuesday, eight young patients at the hospital had already been scanned by the fairly compact unit.
The Swoop system weighs 1,400 pounds, rolling easily around the hospital and usable through an iPad, where real-time images are displayed for analysis. The system costs just over $250,000 each, according to the website for Connecticut-based manufacturer Hyperfine. A donation from the Jack & Betty Demetree Family Foundation was used toward the Swoop system's purchase, hospital officials said.
The system does not replace a hospital's larger, fixed MRI systems. But if a pediatric patient needs repeated scans, or if moving them to an imaging lab could have adverse effects, the Swoop is a "game-changer," especially for young patients in intensive care, Wolfson pediatric neuroradiologist Chetan Shah said.
"Now we are able to bring the machine to a patient's room in the ICU and see what's going on inside their skull and brain, then customize the treatment on a daily basis according to what we see," he said. "Potentially we could do the scan every day on a patient who needs it every day. This option wasn't there earlier."
Shah also believes that Wolfson may be one of the few pediatric hospitals in the nation that has a Swoop for its young patients.
The whole idea behind Swoop is getting it to more patients, Hyperfine officials said.
"We have scanners in Africa and places where there is no alternative. This is ideal for that scenario," said Chip Truwit, Hyperfine senior medical director. "But in the Western world and developed countries, there are plenty of places where the access is something that we don't think of in the same light, and that is an ICU patient that is too ill to transport."
Wolfson Children’s Hospital is the only children’s hospital in Northeast Florida and serves as the pediatric referral center for North Florida, South Georgia and beyond.
Copyright 2023 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.