LONDON — For the first time, an MRI scan has been used to monitor the healing of patients undergoing a spinal cord injury, and doctors hope it will help identify the best course of action for them.
More than 100 people in the UK are expected to receive a CT scan at a new hospital in south Wales, the first such procedure to be performed at a British hospital.
Doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in north London hope that the scans will be a huge help in finding the best possible treatment for patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries in the past.
They say it will be possible to detect changes to the body’s chemistry that could help doctors diagnose the best treatments for those who need it most.
The scan is one of several new medical devices being developed at the British hospital, which has seen a surge in spinal cord surgery in recent years.
“The first scans have shown us that the body responds very strongly to these changes,” said Dr. Caroline Breen, head of the department of surgery at the hospital.
“So we think this can be a very effective way of determining whether there are any further complications.”
The first scan of the patient is scheduled for Sunday.
Dr. Breen said it was a huge success and hoped it would spur other patients to take a similar approach to see what happens in the body of a patient.
A recent study published in the journal Neurology showed that spinal cord fractures are more common among people who suffer spinal cord damage in childhood.
But Breen and her colleagues are hopeful the scans may help patients better understand what is going on inside their bodies.
People who have been injured by a car accident or fall have more than tripled their risk of a spinal injury over the past decade, according to the latest figures from the National Centre for Injury Research and Control (NCI).
In the UK, more than 40,000 people are injured by falling objects every year.
It is a similar story across Europe.
An analysis of the NCI data shows that the UK’s injury rate among people aged 20 to 34 has quadrupled in the last decade, from 13 to 22 per 100,000.
In Britain, about 1,000 children each year suffer a spinal fracture.
Breen said the scans could help pinpoint the most effective treatment for the injury.
If the scans show changes in the patient’s body chemistry, they can be used to identify the right course of treatment, she said.
After a CT is performed, doctors can monitor the patient for signs of swelling and damage to the spinal cord.
Surgeons would then take a blood sample to identify any potential problems with the spinal fluid.
At the end of the procedure, the patient would then be given a small injection of saline to relieve swelling.
When a patient has received the saline injection, they could have their spinal cord reattached to their body, which could be a long time away.
Currently, spinal cord surgeries are only available in the US, Canada and Australia.
Researchers are hoping to see the results of the first scan in Wales within a month.
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