The Department of Cardiac Imaging at St Bartholomew’s Hospital has won ‘Diagnostic Team of the Year’ at the British Medical Journal Awards 2018, which took place on 10 May 2018.
The team at Barts Heart Centre – the largest heart centre in the UK – received the award in recognition of the work they are doing to increase the provision of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to patients who have cardiac devices such as pacemakers.
MRI scans use magnetic waves to produce very detailed images of the body. It is a painless and safe test for many brain and spinal diseases, joint problems, and cancer diagnoses.
Patients with pacemakers or defibrillators often find it difficult to get an MRI scan when they need one as the devices were not originally designed to undergo MRI scanning. Although individuals with these devices can safely undergo MRI nowadays, many still report having difficulty accessing MRI scans.
440,000 people in the UK have a pacemaker or defibrillator implanted, and each has a 75% chance of needing a MRI scan in their lifetimes. Scans are vital to diagnose and enable prompt treatment many conditions, including cancer and stroke. The total number of scans performed each year on patients with implanted devices is only around 1000, but an estimated 50,000 are needed.
To improve access, the team at Barts Heart Centre set up a ‘one stop’ service to provide MRI services for pacemaker patients using two MRI scanners that Barts Charity funded when Barts Heart Centre opened.
Over two years the number of such MRI scans has increased six-fold, and St Bartholomew’s Hospital regularly now gets referrals from hospitals across the country to help their patients.
The team has produced educational materials, set up a website, and encouraged changes in guidelines from the British Heart Rhythm Society to help other hospitals to follow its lead.
Charlotte Manisty, consultant cardiologist at St Bartholomew’s Hospital who set up and leads the service, said: “Although many pacemakers and defibrillators are now designed to be safe within an MRI environment provided precautions are followed, it’s disappointing knowing that many patients still report difficulties in accessing scans. Currently we are providing this service to patients from all around the UK, but our aim is for other centres to follow our lead and develop their own services locally.”
Dr Anish Bhuva, British Heart Foundation Cardiology Fellow at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won Diagnostic Team of the Year. It is a great recognition of the efforts and vision our team has shown.
“It is a huge boost to our national campaign that is working to increase MRI provision by raising awareness, developing services, and changing policy.”