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Times of India
21 December 2010
By Pratibha Masand
Mumbai, India

Trauma patients who are rushed to Sion Hospital can take heart. Their relatives will no longer need to take them to other hospitals or clinics for the crucial MRI scan needed before reaching a diagnosis; the civic–run hospital will, on Tuesday, inaugurate its MRI unit – almost 15 years after the idea was first floated.

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is considered the best way of seeing inside a body without cutting it open. While both KEM and Nair hospitals have had MRI units for a few years now, Sion Hospital’s MRI project met a number of obstacles for years.

For instance, five years ago, a second–hand MRI machine was offered to the BMC for Sion Hospital by a private firm under a public–private partnership. This proposal, however, was shot down after there was an uproar and the medical fraternity felt that very few people in the lower economic groups would be able to access the MRI.

"There was need for an MRI at Sion Hospital as it is a trauma–care specialist hospital. This unit will certainly ease the pressure on KEM and Nair Hospitals," said Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner, BMC.

Sion Hospital has a cause for celebration as the arrival of MRI machine, which cost the BMC a total of Rs 11.3 crore, has also brought about a complete modification of the radiology department. "It did take long to get the machine, but we are not complaining. It is a 3–Tesla MRI machine, the fastest available as of now," said Dr Suleman Merchant, head of radiology, Sion Hospital, while showing the patientfriendly unit. "We have added colours and friendly paintings and posters so that people feel good being in the unit."

The machine, which can do a complete body scan in less than seven minutes, will be a boon to Sion Hospital, where almost 6,000 injury cases are treated per month.

A scan is likely to cost a patient Rs 2,500 along with the contrast material, which is injected in the patient before the scan. "For those who cannot afford it, of course, the scan will be free," said Dr Merchant. However, sources in the hospital say there isn’t enough staff in the department to use the MRI machine to its fullest.

The 3–Tesla machine, which has the capacity for imaging almost 40 people in a day, will be running only one shift and MRI of only 12–15 people will be done in a day. Experts say this may also lead to a KEM–like situation, where there is a waiting period of more than three months to get an MRI done. When asked about the vacant posts of technicians, Dr Merchant said, "We are looking into it."

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