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How UVA is Offering the Best in Stroke and Heart Care

For stroke patients, the saying goes, time is brain. Every second counts — the sooner a stroke patient receives treatment, the more damage can be prevented. That’s why the new IMRIS™ imaging suite is such an important addition at the University of Virginia Health System. IMRIS allows UVA doctors to shave vital minutes off stroke treatment times, offering major benefits for stroke patients.IMRIS

The leading-edge IMRIS suite uses two forms of imaging — magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and biplane angiography — to enable doctors to see inside the body in great detail and provide extremely targeted therapy.

Saving Time Saves Lives

The suite speeds stroke treatment by enabling physicians to respond without moving the patient from location to location, says UVA’s Mark E. Shaffrey, MD, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery.

“You could actually get your MRI done in the operating room, a sterile environment, and then immediately, once you have the results of your MRI up, you could prepare to do your stroke intervention. That, perhaps, could save you 30 minutes or more,” Shaffrey says. “Thirty minutes or more could be incredibly valuable time in reversing a neurologic deficit like the loss of strength on one side or the inability to speak.”

Advancing Treatment for Brain Tumors & Movement Disorders

But that’s just one of the many benefits of the IMRIS suite. It offers a wide array of useful applications, such as allowing neurosurgeons to evaluate brain tumor removals instantly, without the need to finish the surgery and conduct an MRI later. “We can remove as much of the brain tumor as we can see, but then we can get an MRI before we close and get a real-time update of exactly what we did during the surgery, and if there’s a small amount left, we can go back and get that,” Shaffrey says.

The system also aids in the placement of deep-brain stimulators for movement disorders. “Instead of putting in the electrodes based on preoperative imaging and hoping the brain didn’t change during the surgery, we can do it real-time using the MRI and very, very accurately place the electrodes where they need to be,” Shaffrey says.

Help For the Heart

UVA cardiologist Scott Lim, MD, notes the advantages IMRIS offers for cardiology applications. “We can actually see directly the effects of our therapy on the person’s heart and blood vessel tissue,” he says, “and we can then tailor our therapies to what we see.”

Another benefit, he says, is that IMRIS reduces the need to expose patients, especially children, to the radiation from X-rays.


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