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Innovative procedure expands MRI scans for cardiac patients

Oakville News Better Care Story
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Oakville News Better Care Story

Halton Healthcare completed its first Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan of a patient with an implanted cardiac device (defibrillator in this case) at its Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH).

Two years in the making, this accomplishment can be attributed to an innovative collaboration between Halton Healthcare’s Diagnostic Imaging and Cardiology Departments to develop a unique program that safely accommodates cardiac patients with MRI-compatible pacemakers and implanted cardiac devices.

This new specialized program improves access to this vital diagnostic test for these cardiac patients.

Dr. Saul Valadka, Chief of Diagnostic Imaging at Halton Healthcare, notes that MRIs are considered the ‘gold standard’ in imaging for specific conditions.

“MRI is the best way to diagnose spinal cord compression and some neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis. We also use MRI when other tests such as ultrasound and CT Scans have failed to provide sufficient information,” says Dr. Valadka.

“Until recently, however, patients with implanted cardiac devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators couldn’t have an MRI because their cardiac devices were incompatible.”

Dr. Kostas Ioannou also identified this unmet clinical need as the Electrophysiologist and Director of the Cardiac Device and Arrhythmia Clinic at OTMH.

“Up until recently, the strong magnetic field of the MRI could damage the components in these implanted devices, compromising their function and putting the patients at serious risk,” explains Dr. Ioannou.

“Fortunately, advancing technologies have since provided a wide range of implantable cardiac devices known as ‘conditional devices’ that are specifically designed to operate in an MRI environment.”

“However, even with this new technology, only a handful of healthcare facilities in Ontario offer this procedure,” notes Dr. Valadka. “Until now, we had to send our cardiac patients elsewhere for their MRI scans.”

“We were determined to leverage this new technology and find a way to provide this essential diagnostic test successfully here at OTMH, where its closer to home for our patients and where both our Diagnostic Imaging and Cardiology teams could support them seamlessly,” adds Dr. Ioannou.

Thanks to the tremendous collaboration, the Cardiology and Diagnostic Imaging teams at Halton Healthcare successfully implemented a procedure with stringent safety protocols to provide MRI scans to patients with implanted devices at OTMH in the Spring of 2022.

The first such MRI scan was of a patient with an implanted cardiac defibrillator.

“Our patients and their safety is our number one priority,” explains Jay Needles, Corporate MRI Lead at Halton Healthcare. “There are a multitude of rigorous safety checks at each step of a patient’s MRI journey. Scanning conditions must be customized for each patient’s device to meet the conditions specified by the device’s manufacturer.”

“This meticulous and specialized procedure is extremely patient-focused. It is performed only on a case-by-case basis and strictly reserved for patients with implanted conditional devices who absolutely need an MRI.”

“Mere words cannot express my gratitude for the amazing care that I received at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital,” notes Karen Day, the first patient to have this procedure at OTMH. “Although this procedure was brand new, my medical team met the challenge with flying colours – as I knew they would.”

“They really went above and beyond to ensure my safety and well-being every step of the way. I’m so grateful to them all and am so glad that I could have this complex procedure at my community hospital, right here in Oakville.”

Written by: Oakville News