State-of-the-art camera to save sick kids’ lives

Graham Wilkinson, a consultant paediatric radiologist at the Sick Kids hospital. Picture: Nigel Darling
Graham Wilkinson, a consultant paediatric radiologist at the Sick Kids hospital. Picture: Nigel Darling
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A STATE-OF-THE-ART camera which it is predicted will help save the lives of some of the sickest children in Scotland is set to arrive in the Capital.

The £550,000 gamma camera picks up rays emitted by radioactive molecules which have been injected into a patient and combines them with images taken by a CT scanner to display a 4D real-time picture of what is going on inside a child’s body.

The result will give doctors and surgeons far more information than they have currently and allows them to make a better-informed decision about what the best course of action is. The clearer image will also allow them to operate with more precision if a patient has to go under the knife.

The camera, which will be the first of its kind in Scotland when it arrives at the Sick Kids hospital, is being paid for by the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.

Graham Wilkinson, a consultant paediatric radiologist at the hospital, said the device, which will be bolted to the concrete floor, represented a significant advance on the hospital’s older gamma camera, with dramatic technological improvements being made in the field over the past five years.

He said: “It’s going to be a lifesaver. It will allow better decisions to be made over matters that mean surviving or not.

“It detects abnormal function and is very good for picking up cancer and looking at kidneys that aren’t working properly. We were bought the existing camera 13 years ago and it’s been great but it’s got to the point that we can’t get new parts for it any more.

“The new machine incorporates a CT scanner as an integral part, so it will allow us to more accurately pinpoint where the abnormality is in the body. It’s going to give us a huge advantage as we’ll be able to be much more precise about where tumours are.”

It is predicted the new camera will be used ten times a week, and will also be used to look at the brains of children with severe epilepsy.

Doctors are currently choosing a manufacturer and finalising the order for the camera, while a Sick Kids Friends Foundation fundraising campaign has been launched to cover the cost.

Maureen Harrison, chief executive of the charity, said: “An integral part of what the Sick Kids Friends Foundation does is providing state-of-the-art machinery to make sure sick children receive the best treatment available.

“We’re appealing to fundraisers, whether it be those who have helped us before, have never volunteered or companies pledging to help us reach our target – we want to hear from you.

“This year marks our 20th anniversary, a year to remember.”