As part of its efforts to further expand its services, the privately operated, Dr. Balwant Singh Hospital recently introduced a massive high frequency Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine which according to the medical institution’s administrator, Dr. Madhu Singh, is brand new and fully functional.

During an interview with this publication, Dr. Singh explained that the General Electric (GE) made MRI machine has a 1.5 Tesla magnet measurement and was in fact something that Guyana was lacking.

Previously the St Joseph Mercy Hospital, which is also privately operated, was the only facility offering MRI service and according to Dr. Singh, the East Street, Georgetown, Dr. Balwant Singh Hospital will be offering this service at a comparable price.

The MRI, according to Dr. Singh, offers imaging of any part of the body including the brain and can cost a minimum of $65,000. The scanning machine can produce the images of the entire spine at a stretch enabling complete evaluation of the whole of the spinal cord, vertebrate and all discs. It was disclosed that the entire head, neck and whole body can also be assessed in single image formats for evaluation of cancers, poly-trauma or screening for any serious illness.

Currently a Specialist Neuro-Surgeon, Dr. Harsh Saxena, is visiting at the private hospital. According to Dr. Singh his visit commenced last Monday and will conclude next week Friday. Moreover, those who are found to be in need of Dr. Saxena’s services will be attended to during this period.

At a recent press conference officials of the private hospital spoke of the importance of the MRI scanning service, highlighting that MRI as a modality is known to give the best resolution of internal organs as compared to any other scanning modalities especially for brain, spinal cord, discs, joints and muscles.”

According to them, MRI gives great details of body parts, pathological processes and even chemical constitution of any area of the body. Another advantage of the MRI, as presented by the Dr. Balwant Singh Hospital, is that it is multi-dimensional. Images can be obtained in any plane of the body. For example in an x-ray there is just a two dimensional portrait of all structures together and in CT scans there is only a horizontal slice of the body depicted, whereas in MRI it is possible to make details of images in vertical, horizontal, or any oblique slices and their composite 3D images are possible.

“Unlike CT Scans or x-rays these excellent images can be reproduced without any harmful radiation. So this is an ideal imaging modality in pregnant women and children,” officials confidently noted.

According to Dr. Singh, as an advanced MRI facility, there is even the possibility of providing a better resolution of the images of all parts of the body and the chance of missing any pathology is unlikely.

It was also revealed that the machine has the capability to detect stroke at the earliest possible time so that the revascularisation therapy for stroke can be initiated before the window period.

This, it was noted, is possible with the use of diffusion weighted images of MRI, which is a functional MRI imaging technique. MRI is also said to be the imaging choice of people with epilepsy, according to Dr. Singh, who insisted that any person suffering from this illness should be assessed at least once by MRI to make sure that no specific cause exists.

It was noted too that many patients with epilepsy may have diseases like infection of the brain, tumours, stroke or vascular malformations and it was disclosed that “a blood clot in the brain whether it is in artery or vein is best depicted by MRI…”

“People developing fits should undergo an MRI to detect any possible causes including encephalitis, where MRI will show the first evidence of a developing brain disease.”

Hospital officials said that the MRI is also good to evaluate people with back pains where all structures of vertebrae, discs, spinal cord, nerve roots and muscles can be imaged with utmost precision. Various sports injuries are also better assessed by MRI as this can clearly evaluate bone, cartilage, muscles, ligaments and tendons. Similar injuries can also occur in road traffic accidents and it was noted that a MRI with good resolution of all structures is said to be the only effective modality to assess these injuries. Moreover, the move to introduce the MRI service by the private hospital comes as part of its attempt to make Guyana a world class medical destination.

“We are constantly (pursuing) efforts to make the country proud of its health standards and our people no longer need to go outside the country to get higher diagnostic tests and treatments,” said Dr Singh, adding that “we are committed to patient care and offer this facility for all patients from any hospital or doctor.”

She also assured that emergency MRI services are offered everyday including holidays on a 24/7 basis.