Revolutionary in-theatre intraoperative brain scanner

07 July 2014
Thanks to the wonderful generosity of our supporters I am delighted that we can make a significant contribution to this ground-breaking project.
Caroline Hampden-White, Children with Cancer UK.    
Thanks to your generous support we've been able to donate £600,000 towards an in-theatre intraoperative MRI scanner, which is one of the first in the UK. This amazing piece of equipment will allow Nottingham surgeons to take detailed scans of a patient’s brain while they're still on the operating table.

During brain surgery, this equipment will ensure that the children get the help they need to maximise its effect and keep them safe.

Called the PoleStar, this is a low-field intraoperative MRI scanner that can be fitted into existing theatre suites to provide surgeons with MRI scans quickly within the operating theatre without the need to move the patient off the table. It will be one of the first one-room system of its kind in the UK.

Here’s what Donald Macarthur, Consultant Neurosurgeon at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, says about the scanner:
 “Surgery for brain tumours, especially in children, is usually about trying to remove as much of the tumour tissue as possible, as safely as possible, from within the delicate functioning brain tissue. The shape, nature or location of some tumours means this is not always straightforward. This type of intraoperative MRI scanner will enable us to carry out a high quality scan or indeed several scans if necessary, lasting just a few minutes each during the operation while the patient is actually on the operating table to ensure the best possible result is achieved.

“The evidence from units in the rest of the world where scanners of this type are used is that one-third of patients will have an improved or complete resection as a result of the intraoperative scan information. This will be the first PoleStar MRI in the UK and we at NUH are excited about the potential clinical benefit it will bring to our patients and enormously grateful to Children with Cancer UK for their generous support.”

The system will allow the surgeon to visualise more easily the extent and position of the tumour to ensure that all, or as much as possible, of the tumour is safely removed during the operation.
We’re delighted to be the first hospital trust in the country to receive this scanner. It will be a fantastic asset for NUH’s operating theatres and our talented team of neurosurgeons.
James Hunter, Clinical Director for Neurosurgery at NUH

Surgeons will be able to use the system to monitor for other complications during surgery such as hydrocephalus, brain swelling or bleeding and in many cases it should reduce the need for additional surgery.

As it will help surgeons to remove all cancerous cells, it should also reduce the patient’s need for other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Crucially, it could also help to reduce the debilitating disabilities affecting many patients post-surgery, as surgeons will be able to remove tumours more accurately and reduce the amount of healthy tissue which is damaged during the operation.

Professor David Walker, Co-Director of the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, explains “This equipment will ensure that the children get the help they need during brain surgery to maximise its effect and keep them safe. Introducing special technology is a key step to improving quality of care for cancer, linking its introduction to a programme of research will maximise the learning.  Nottingham’s founding role in MR invention places this revolutionary UK intra-operative scanner in a uniquely expert centre, equipped to maximise its further application and development."

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