Government hospitals will start carrying out more than 200 extra MRI scans weekly in the next few days in a bid to “drastically” decrease waiting times, parliament has been told.

Hospitals already perform 375 extra scans weekly after normal operating hours and the new system will see these extra scans bumped up to 600 weekly. This would mean hospitals will have performed around 31,200 extra scans per year.

Health Minister Jo Etienne Abela published the figures in parliament this week in reply to a parliamentary question by PN MP Graziella Attard Previ.

“Government funding for extra MRI scans will grow from €2.1 million to €3.8 million,” he said.

“We expect that within a year, the current waiting time for these scans will be drastically reduced.”

In January the Minister announced that an MRI scanner is to be installed at St Vincent De Paul Residence and another will be procured for Gozo General Hospital to ease waiting lists.

The announcement came days after a parliamentary question revealed that over 15,750 people are waiting for an MRI scan, double the number who were on the waiting list six months before.

In his reply to this week’s PQ, Abela said the three MRI scanners at Mater Dei are working around the clock almost every day.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive medical imaging technique that creates detailed images of the body’s organs and tissues, used to diagnose a wide range of conditions.

Because they provide detailed images of soft tissues, these scans are especially useful for examining the brain, spinal cord, muscles, ligaments, and other internal organs to diagnose aneurysms, tumours, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord conditions, stroke, brain injury, torn ligaments, muscle tears, arthritis, joint injuries, heart disease, blood clots and to detect cancer in many parts of the body, as well as to determine the stage of cancer and whether it has spread.

Back in January Abela had said the demand for MRI imaging grew mainly due to the population increase.

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