Advanced technology for St Michael's Hospital

New 4D scanners are now being used at St Michael’s Hospital to operate on babies still in the womb.

The £150,000 needed for the scanners was raised thanks to the 2018 Bristol to Paris Cycle Challenge participants, along with a kind donation from the James Tudor Foundation.

Now in use on the fetal medicine unit, the scanners will provide significant benefits to patients, including improved and quicker diagnosis of complex fetal problems.

They will also be used to operate on babies still in the womb, improving surgeon’s abilities to perform the intricate procedures.

Patient story

Joe said: “Chloe is our first child. When we had our 12-week scan, it showed a raised nuchal translucency, it’s where fluid collects behind the neck of the foetus. At that stage, we were pretty much told to expect and prepare for the worst.

“Dr Tim Overton and his team at the fetal medicine unit were able to perform a procedure where a needle is inserted in the womb guided by the ultrasound image from the new 4D scanner. That procedure then enabled a series of tests to be carried out on a number of things that could have been giving rise to this raised fluid on the back of Chloe’s neck. Happily, all those tests came back clear.

“The staff were brilliant at explaining everything really clearly and giving us a realistic, but sufficient, amount of hope. Every single stage of the process has been absolutely brilliant and we were overwhelmed by the care that we received.

“After we were walking out after one set of scans, Tim came out clutching one of the scan pictures that he was able to capture and print out - a picture of Chloe’s footprint. The little touches like that clearly show the staff going above and beyond the normal procedure and were really gratefully received.”

FMU staff

Dr Tim Overton, who took part in the ride, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity’s amazing fundraising efforts have meant that we have been able to buy not one but two superb ultrasound machines.

“Their arrival could not have been more-timely - last week alone we had to perform two emergency fetal procedures which were made considerably easier because of the clear views of the fetus we were able to achieve. This week we have another three potentially life-saving procedures planned in addition to the 50 or so other appointments we have made for referrals from all over the South West.

"Words of thanks do not do justice to the debt of gratitude the whole fetal medicine team owe Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity and our team of cyclists that made the epic journey to Paris last May."

The scanners can also be used for parents to visualise how their baby will look once they are born. When the baby has a physical abnormality, a very high quality image can improve the patients’ perception of the pregnancy and facilitate vital prenatal bonding.

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