UK's first rocket MRI simulator lands at Evelina London

Posted on Thursday 22nd March 2018
Young boy and play specialist with play MRI scanner

Lewis Lancashire and play specialist Miriam Kearley with the new rocket-shaped MRI simulator

A new rocket-shaped MRI simulator is helping children at Evelina London to overcome their fears about having a real scan.

Evelina London is the first UK hospital – and 16th in the world – to install an innovative MRI simulator.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans produce detailed images of inside the body, these are then used to help diagnose conditions, plan treatments and assess how effective treatments have been.

Although a painless procedure, children have to lie absolutely still in a confined space for a period of time which can range from 20 minutes to an hour and a half.

Aimed at children up to 10 years old, the new simulator helped 19 young patients avoid having an anaesthetic within the first month of being used. Children can watch a film while lying inside the machine and are recorded by the simulator. Motion sensors register any movement made during the practice session and the results are discussed with the child, their parents and the play specialist.

Last year around 3,000 children had an MRI scan at Evelina London, with around 2,500 of these young patients needing to have a general anaesthetic. Some children can be anxious about lying in the machine, while others find it difficult to keep still or don’t understand why they need to keep still.

Miriam Kearley, imaging play specialist at Evelina London, said: “Having an MRI scan can be a scary experience for anyone, but especially for a child. By practising with the simulator ahead of a scan, many of our young patients are able to overcome any nerves or anxiety, meaning they are less likely to need an anaesthetic.”

Eight year old Lewis Lancashire from Erith in south-east London, was one of the first patients to benefit.

His grandmother Vicki Lancashire said: “Lewis was scared of the idea of needing an MRI, but after practicing with the simulator he was much calmer when going through the real scan.

“The team at Evelina London did a great job at guiding him through exactly what he could expect, and we are really pleased that he didn’t need an anaesthetic to undergo the scan.”

Tracy Moon, senior paediatric MRI radiographer at Evelina London, said: “The MRI simulator has been great for our patients. It helps us explain to children what will happen during their real scan so they can feel in control and prepared.

“Encouraging children to have scans while awake avoids the small risks associated with a general anaesthetic, reduces anxiety and means the patient can go straight home afterwards.”

The Playful MRI Simulator, made by DOmed Medical Engineering Design in France, was purchased by the friends and family of Lord Stanley Fink, President of Evelina London, as a special donation to mark his 60th birthday.