Diagnostic scans are a key part of assessing patients for surgery. (Black Press files)

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

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

(Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared Thursday.
COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada Project site

14 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time

A man has been arrested after a Nov. 11 break and enter at the Sandspit Airport, Queen Charlotte RCMP said in a media release on. Nov 17. (Black Press Media files)
Man arrested after Nov. 11 break and enter at local airport

Queen Charlotte RCMP investigate recent spate of break and enters

The 4.1 magnitude earthquake detected on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, is shown in pink. (Earthquakes Canada)
4.1 magnitude earthquake detected near Haida Gwaii

Event happened about 40 kilometres southwest of Village of Queen Charlotte

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

More than 70 anglers participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. A court date is set for Dec. 1, 2020. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Anglers ticketed in Fraser River demonstration fishery heading to court

Sportfishing groups started a GoFundMe with almost $20K so far for legal defence of six anglers

Care home staff are diligent about wearing personal protective equipment when they are in contact with residents, but less so when they interact with other staff members, B.C. Seniors Advocate says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
More COVID-19 testing needed for senior home staff, B.C.’s advocate says

Employees mingling spotted as virus conductor in many workplaces

Most Read