Family Focus

Mobile MRI unit at Wolfson Children’s Hospital helping to treat patients at a faster rate

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Wolfson Children’s Hospital administrators say they’ve recently adopted a mobile MRI unit.

Bonnie Hellard, Director of Imaging Services at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, said they are the first children’s hospital in the Southeast to do so.


“Normally when a patient has to come off an MRI, they have to come off all their monitors, all their IV medication pumps. They have to be stripped of all magnetic accessories that they have on,” Hellard said.

The device makes patients feel at ease and saves staff tons of time. It’s called the Swoop Portable MRI Imaging System.

According to a news release from Wolfson, the mobile MRI unit has an ultra-low-field system that is safe to use virtually anywhere and allows parents to be nearby while their child undergoes imaging. The magnet strength is comparable to a refrigerator magnet, but still allows accurate scans.

It also has an open design and reduced noise to help ease anxiety for patients and parents.

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“When you are transferring a patient to a different part of the hospital who’s in the ICU it requires respiratory support, IV lines,” said Dr. Chetan Shah, a pediatric neuroradiologist at Wolfson.

When a patient is in need of an MRI, Shah said it can take a team of up to six medical personnel to help transport a sick child if the child cannot move on their own.

“There are times when it’s just impossible to transport and, in those situations, we don’t even get an MRI, and not just us but anyone in the world,” Shah said.

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But not anymore now that Wolfson has a mobile MRI unit.

A non-invasive imagining technology that can help Shah detect or diagnose tumors and internal injuries specifically in the brain. The mobile MRI unit also saves time because the intensive care unit and a normal MRI machine that fits about half your body are in different buildings. The mobile MRI unit cuts the time from just over three hours to 15 minutes.

Those more than three hours don’t even include the actual imaging, which can be another 30 to 45 minutes.

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“To transport a patient all the way from, down the elevator, across the lobby, MRI areas, and then the screening process - in this situation the machine just comes into the patient’s room,” Shah said.

Wolfson has only been using this mobile MRI unit for the last week and has already tested it out on six patients. They were able to send one patient home sooner than expected after finding out they were stable.

Wolfson largely credits Philipp Aldana, MD, Pediatric Neurosurgeon and co-medical Director of the Stys Neuroscience Institute at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, for the Mobile MRI unit. Aldana said he and the hospital has been observing the success and progression of the Swoop Portable MRI Imaging System for years.

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Aldana said after seeing its technology improve time and time again, he knew he had to try and bring it to Wolfson. Especially after he treated a very ill patient last year who could not be transported to get an MRI because he was so ill.

When a team of medical professionals was eventually put together, the sick boy was able to get imaging done, but Aldana said sometimes that’s too long.

“By the time we got the scan, it had been a long period of time and I felt that if we had gotten the scan sooner, we could have made a difference in the outcome. That’s why I tried so hard to get this scanner here,” Aldana said.

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