New program at Oakville hospital improves access to MRI scans for cardiac patients


Published December 5, 2022 at 11:30 am

This new specialized program at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital improves access to MRI scans, a vital diagnostic test for cardiac patients. HALTON HEALTHCARE PHOTO

A new innovative procedure expands access to MRI scans for cardiac patients at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH).

Two years in the making, Halton Healthcare recently completed its first Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan of a patient with an implanted cardiac device (defibrillator in this case) at the hospital.

The accomplishment is attributed to an innovative collaboration between Halton Healthcare’s Diagnostic Imaging and Cardiology Departments to develop a special 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 to be the ‘gold standard’ in imaging for certain 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.

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

Dr. Kostas Ioannou, also identified this unmet clinical need in his role 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.”

Even with new technology, only a handful of healthcare facilities in Ontario offer this procedure.

“Until now, we had to send our cardiac patients elsewhere for their MRI scans,” says Dr. Valadka.

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

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

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