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New £1.2m scanner at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham

By Medway Messenger reporter

A new scanner to accommodate larger people has been unveiled at Medway Maritime Hospital.

The MRI machine, which cost £1.2m, will also benefit claustrophobic patients.

Former patient Claire Riddle, who suffers from claustrophobia, was asked join chief nurse Steve Hams for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Stephen Giardina, head of MRI, cuts the ribbon with former patient Claire Riddle

She said: “It was vital that I had an MRI scan to fully diagnose my condition but I am so claustrophobic that it was almost impossible for me to go into the other scanner.

“It felt so narrow and enclosed. I was only able to do it with a lot of help from the wonderful MRI staff.”

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside the body. Patients lie down and are slid into the tube on a moving bed.

“This new scanner will benefit a range of our patients in all sorts of ways - head of imaging Stephen Giardina

The scanner at Medway hospital has been specifically designed to be patient friendly with soft blue lighting and a much larger space for the patient to slide into than with standard scanners.

It is not the first time local services have been expanded to accommodate larger people. In 2012, Medway Crematorium in Chatham had to replace three burners to fit bigger coffins.

The expansion came after it was revealed that Medway obesity levels are among the highest in the country, with 30% of adults being severely overweight.

Stephen Giardina, head of imaging at the hospital, said: “This new scanner will benefit a range of our patients in all sorts of ways.

“For example, some patients can’t cope with being in narrow confined spaces, or they may just be physically too large to fit in. These categories of patients have to be sent to the open scanner at Croydon, which delays them getting an MRI image and also costs this trust money that could be used for patient services.

“Claustrophobic patients also have their MRI examinations under general anaesthetic which carries some risk and doubles the time required for the scan.”

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