Clinical Neurosciences Center

New Generation of Stroke Care Unveiled at University of Utah Hospital

Innovative MRI Concept is the Idea of U of U Radiologist and Could Conserve a Staggering 30-60 Minutes During a Brain Attack

SALT LAKE CITY – February 22, 2013: Today at University of Utah Hospital, physicians unveiled its new IMRIS VISIUS® Surgical Theatre, a first-of-its kind intraoperative MRI system configuration, which is expected to change the way patients are treated during a stroke.

The new system features a mobile nine-ton 3T (tesla) MRI scanner and comprises three separate rooms – an MRI room, flanked by an operating room and a biplane angiogram room – located at the hospital’s Clinical Neurosciences Center.

As the only three-room configuration in Utah, and one of only a few in the country, University of Utah Hospital’s new IMRIS VISIUS iMRI system will provide unparalleled diagnosis and treatment options for stroke and other neurovascular disorders. In fact, University of Utah Hospital’s IMRIS system will be the first system in the world to be applied for stroke patients – saving what physicians expect to be a staggering 30-to-60 minutes during a brain attack.

What makes University of Utah Hospital’s IMRIS VISIUS system so unique is its planned use for stroke diagnosis, treatment and research using a “Tissue Clock” instead of a “Time Clock” approach. By utilizing the IMRIS technology, doctors will be able to determine, in real-time, the precise level of damage to a patient’s brain tissue during, or immediately following, a stroke. This allows patients to receive customized treatment based on their individual level of need at the time.

This method of treating stroke patients is the brainchild of Edwin “Steve” Stevens, MD, professor and chairman of the University of Utah’s Department of Radiology, who originally came up with this concept in 2008. “Time really is brain because the more minutes that pass during a stroke, the more brain that dies and the worse the outcome,” he says. “This configuration has the potential to tell physicians more detailed information about a stroke, and save patients more valuable minutes, than has ever been available before. It literally has the potential to start a new chapter in stroke care.”

The powerful imaging potential of the new three-room IMRIS suite gives University of Utah physicians a revolutionary way of treating stroke patients by bringing an MRI directly into the operating room. In addition to its planned use for stroke care, the IMRIS system will be used for procedures related to complex brain tumors and deep brain stimulation. At times when the system is needed in multiple suites, it will simply be transported from room to room by use of a ceiling-mounted rail system.

With the new system The University of Utah becomes the only hospital complex with two VISIUS Surgical Theatres. The other surgical suite, located within the Huntsman Cancer Institute, is a two-room operating and diagnostic configuration with a 1.5T scanner that is primarily used for brain tumor resection and other interventions.

Physicians at University of Utah Hospital expect to start treating patients in the three-room surgical theater in March, following extensive training for all physicians, nurses and staff.