News posted 20 June, 2018

Children’s Hospital launches appeal to transform brain surgery for young patients

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Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity has today launched a £4million Appeal to build a new intra-operative MRI (iMRI) scanning suite that will revolutionise brain surgery at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

An iMRI scanning suite is an operating theatre with an integrated MRI scanner which will give surgeons a real-time view of the brain whilst the child is still on the operating table. This facility will make imaging the brain during operations a seamless procedure, helping to achieve the best possible outcomes for critically ill young patients with neurological conditions.

Every year, thousands of children and young people from across the region come to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital for specialist neurological treatment, many of which will require complex brain surgery for a range of debilitating and life threating conditions including brain tumours, traumatic brain injuries, problems with the central nervous system and epilepsy.

The hospital’s neurosurgeons rely on MRI scans taken before surgery to guide them to the area of the brain requiring treatment. Sometimes scans need to be taken during surgery, which means the risky process of moving a child out of theatre to be scanned in another part of the hospital.

It isn’t until another MRI scan is taken after surgery that the neurosurgeons can see if the surgery was successful, or if any damaged tissue or tumour was left behind and more intrusive surgery is needed.

All this will change with the provision of iMRI scanning equipment at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Prof. Stavros Stivaros, Head of Paediatric Neuroradiology at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital comments: “This new iMRI scanner will revolutionise brain surgery here at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, giving us the capability to save even more children’s lives. It will mean that we can do all of the scanning while the child is still on the operating table, in a safe, sterile environment.

“Children would need fewer general anaesthetics and potentially fewer surgeries – they could go straight from the scanner into surgery as many times as needed. Our surgeons would have all the information they need to reach the affected area of the brain, or remove the whole tumour, the first time. And worried mums and dads could rest assured that their child has left theatre only after everything that could possibly be done, has been done.”

Six-year-old Ava Le Blanc from Bury was just two-years-old when she was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour. In the years since Ava’s diagnosis, she has had five major brain surgeries at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, five gruelling and debilitating cycles of chemotherapy, followed by high dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, as well as six weeks of craniospinal radiotherapy.

Ava’s mum Charlene comments: “When Ava was diagnosed with a brain tumour we were told our little girl only had a 20-30% chance of survival. Nothing prepares you for the shock of getting news like that.  We were absolutely heartbroken.

“Ava has been through so much but she never complains or moans, she’s so brave, she just gets on with it. It’s all she’s ever known. This new suite of equipment for brain surgery will make the world of difference to children like Ava, and her own journey would have been very different had the hospital had an iMRI scanner then.

“We were devastated last year when we learnt that Ava’s tumour has returned again. Following further treatment, the tumour has now reduced, so we are hopeful that it will continue to shrink and that she won’t need any further treatment. Ava needs regular monitoring scans and will continue to be under the care of the amazing team at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. We can’t thank them enough for everything they have done for our little girl.”

The new suite will also feature a biplane angiography machine which provides three-dimensional images that allow surgeons to follow the path of blood flow through the vessels in the brain. This

means surgeons can non-invasively reach and treat conditions, such as head, spine and neck conditions, that once would have required open surgery. Having this equipment co-located

with the iMRI will mean that Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital is the only paediatric hospital in the UK to have an iMRI suite with intra-operative biplane angiography.

Over the next two years the iMRI Appeal will take much of the focus of the Charity’s fundraising, as they look to rally support from the whole of the North West.

As Chairman of Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charitable Fundraising Board, Maurice Watkins CBE, says, every penny counts:

“Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital is a remarkable hospital, but without charitable donations, we cannot provide some of the outstanding facilities and innovations to help patients and their families when they need them the most. Our iMRI Appeal will enable us to purchase this truly revolutionary equipment which will help change the lives of our young patients requiring brain surgery at our hospital.

“The cost of the new iMRI scanner is £4million. However, it cannot be emphasised enough that small donations are as valuable as larger donations. By supporting this appeal and helping us to equip a state-of-the-art iMRI suite, you will not only be supporting your own local family and friends, you’ll help our hospital maintain our world-class status as a centre for neuroscience and help children from all over the country, and even the world.”

To learn more about the iMRI Appeal and to get involved visit:

To donate now text IMRI00 (£AMOUNT) to 70070