iMRI build siteThe site of the new iMRI scanner taking shape at the QMC

Scanning a brighter horizon for children with brain tumours

A long-held ambition which will revolutionise treatment for children with brain tumours will soon be realised at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre, thanks to the construction of a state-of-the-art new Intraoperative MRI (iMRI) facility.

The £6.2m project has only been made possible by your support as part of a fundraising collaboration between the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre at the University of Nottingham, the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and the Nottingham Hospitals Charity.

The facility, which is set to open this autumn, will transform the way in which brain tumours can be operated upon, which will mean better results for patients and consequentially fewer operations too.

A clue to what makes this scanner special is the word ‘intraoperative’ – normally MRI scans can only take place before and after surgery, which means it can be difficult to know exactly how successful tumour removal has been until a procedure is completed.

However, the new Intraoperative MRI Scanner will allow surgeons to see MRI scans during surgery, which will enable them to determine exactly how much of the tumour they have removed, and whether any is left behind. 

David Walker, Professor of Paediatric Oncology at the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, said: “This type of scanner offers the opportunity to enhance confidence of the clinical team during neurosurgery to be sure that they are operating within safe limits within the brain and maximising the chance of the operation achieving all that it can at a single attempt.

“It offers the surgeon and patient and their family greater confidence to approach brain surgery with the prospect of a positive outcome and reduces the risks of unexpected complications.”

As well as enabling more effective treatment, an important secondary benefit of the new scanner will be the capacity it provides to increase the number of clinical research trials – something which is currently under intense pressure locally, with many requests having to be turned down.

Clinical research trials can be valuable as the majority of patients who participate will benefit from better long-term outcomes for their health than those who do not.

Because many of these trials require children to be scanned under general anaesthetic – something which the NHS Trust previously did not have a dedicated facility for – the new scanner will be able to provide this function and become the primary diagnostic scanner when it is not in use by the theatres.

“This University funded facility also allows enhanced access to research imaging time for patients participating in complex clinical trials where additional scans for research purposes can be undertaken without occupying scanners focused upon the important work of the NHS, in routine patient care.”

Thanks to the generosity of supporters like you and other fundraising partners, the future for thousands of young children with brain tumours will be much brighter for years to come.