17 July 2003
By Rochelle West
The Daily News
The introduction of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has revolutionised neurology, a leading New Zealand neurologist says.
At a public meeting at the New Plymouth District Council chamber yesterday, Neurological Foundation of New Zealand medical adviser Jon Simcock said MRI scanning had moved the study of the brain from primarily in-patient care to people being seen on an out-patient basis.
"We can now do most of the tests for neurological problems as an out-patient. From an ordinary MRI scan, you end up with about 100 pictures, so we get very precise information on the inside of the brain," Dr Simcock said.
MRI technology was particularly topical for Taranaki, with the long-awaited $3 million MRI becoming fully operational at Taranaki Base Hospital in December last year.
An MRI machine uses a strong magnetic field to take diagnostic pictures of soft tissue.
Dr Simcock said new MRI technology was also now enabling doctors to get even more detailed information on conditions of the brain, by imaging just the arteries and veins, he said.
"What we couldn't get any pictures of before MRI scanning, was Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
"Now imaging shows lesions and we can tell which ones are recent and which ones are old, and this gives us a measure of the progress of the treatment and the progress of the MS.
"We get to see the inflammation of the brain from MS and how it's modified by treatment," he said.
MRI scanning was also very useful for understanding strokes. It was able to help neurologists work out old strokes from new strokes in the brain, Dr Simcock said.
"You learn an awful lot very quickly with MRI scanning."
Auckland-based Dr Simcock, a New Plymouth Boys' High School old boy, also spoke briefly on advances in molecular biology in regards to Parkinson's Disease, genetics in regards to Huntingtons Chorea and neurophysiology.
Almost 200 people attended the meeting, entitled The Brain – New Ideas and Progress in Treatment. It was the first such presentation organised by the the Taranaki Branch of the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand – a charitable organisation aimed at alleviating suffering from diseases and disorders of the brain and nervous system through research and education.
There are about 1200 Taranaki members of the foundation.
Copyright © 2003, The Daily News