New imaging device puts patients in the picture

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 12:00am

Patients at risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke are benefitting from a powerful new diagnostic imaging machine in Hong Kong.

The Adventist Hospital, which specialises in cardiology and oncology, installed the $17 million magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device in July.

The hospital's director of diagnostic imaging services, Danny Leung Ching-wah, said the machine was about twice as powerful as those in most local hospitals.

The Adventist is now able to diagnose heart problems with greater accuracy as the machine produces very clear images.

While patients using other MRI machines must hold their breath for 30 to 40 seconds as the image is produced, Adventist patients only need to do so for five to 10 seconds.

'This will help those with heart problems because they cannot hold their breath for so long,' Mr Leung said. The private hospital charges between $5,000 and $16,800 for each scan, depending on which body part is checked.

MRI machines produce images that are commonly used to detect blocked blood vessels, which can lead to a stroke, heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases.

From 1996 to 2001, there were 26,776 stroke cases in Hong Kong in 2001, 25 per cent more than in 1996. In 2001 there were 64,541 cases of cardiovascular disease, a 29 per cent rise on 1996.

Strokes are the number one cause of death on the mainland, claiming 1.7 million lives last year.