The importance of diagnostic screening at Affidea Ireland – National Brain Awareness Week

Diagnostic tests and procedures are vital tools that help medical professionals confirm or rule out the presence of a neurological disorder or other medical condition. A century ago, the only way to make a positive diagnosis for many neurological disorders was by performing an autopsy after a patient had died, but decades of research into the characteristics of disease, and the development of techniques that allow scientists to see inside the living brain and monitor nervous system activity as it occurs, have given experts powerful and accurate tools to diagnose disease and to test how well a particular therapy may be working.

Affidea Ireland’s Consultant Radiologists use a variety of diagnostic imaging techniques to detect, manage and treat neurological disease. Depending on the type of procedure, results are either immediate or processed within 24 – 48 hours.

Neurological CT scans are used to view the brain and spine; producing rapid, clear two-dimensional images of organs, bones and tissues. Many neurological disorders are diagnosed quickly with CT scanning in urgent hospital or A&E settings.

MRI scans are the mainstay of neurological diagnosis; producing detailed images of body structures including tissues, organs, bones and nerves. Neurological uses include the diagnosis of brain and spinal cord tumours, eye disease, inflammation, infection and vascular irregularities that may lead to stroke. MRI can also detect and monitor degenerative disorders such as multiple sclerosis, and can document brain injury from trauma.

Affidea’s wide-bore MRI scanners are considerably more comfortable for obese or claustrophobic patients than traditional scanners; many of which are found in hospitals or older healthcare centres. Some centres use open MRI machines, which do not currently provide the same picture quality.

All of these tests are non-invasive and painless, with examinations taking from 10-20 minutes. An MRI for one body part generally takes approximately 15 minutes – i.e. a routine brain scan – while a full neurological MRI scan of the brain and entire spine might take up to 45 minutes.

Affidea recognises the importance of these diagnostic procedures as clinical research tools to confirm neurological disorders and have invested heavily in new technologies to support their vital role, says Regional Radiology Manager Michael Ennis.

“Affidea Ireland is committed to providing high-end diagnostic tests to local communities as seen by our new investments in Tallaght, Waterford and our MRI scanner replacement project in our Dundrum Centre. Neurology imaging is a huge part of our workload at Affidea; ranging from GP referrals for ‘headache’ or Consultant Neurologist follow-up for oncology or MS patients. Our investment in new technology reflects this, as our new scanners are less intimidating for claustrophobic neurology patients and provide state-of-the-art scanning techniques like susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) as standard. Research in Neurology is also a future goal with our scanners’ ability to carry out functional MRI brain scanning.”

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