In 2012, UCLH opened the Macmillan Cancer Centre, which was purpose-built as an outpatient and day-care facility to treat and diagnose a wide range of cancers. UCLH Charity's key contribution to this was seen in the provision of a state-of-the-art imaging suite with the UK’s first PET/MRI scanner.
At this time, the combination of PET and MRI was a recent phenomenon and in comparison to the pre-existing combination of PET and CT, PET MRI has lower levels of radiation, and is more suitable for imaging complex areas of soft tissue. Reduced radiation also makes it suitable for scanning children.
To buy this equipment cost UCLH Charity £6 million, and the equipment has significantly enhanced the service that UCLH offers at the cancer centre.
A UCLH Charity grant of £96,500 purchased a Fluorescent Imaging System, a piece of equipment that is expected to significantly reduce the number of patients who will suffer from an anastomotic leak, a potentially life-threatening complication that can occur following surgery to remove cancerous tumours of the bowel.
When a cancerous tumour of the bowel is removed, the ends of the colon are joined back together. The joining point is called an anastomosis, and 5-10% of patients who receive this operation will experience an anastomotic leak, a painful and serious complication that will cause prolonged hospital stay and often an emergency operation.
The operation fails because the tissue is not healthy, and the Imaging System enables doctors to assess the health of the tissue by monitoring blood flow. This is made visible by injecting fluorescent dye into the colon, which the imaging system translates into an image which is visible to the human eye. With the imaging system, it is estimated that the percentage of patients who will experience an anastomotic leak will be reduced to as low as 1.3%, which is a significant reduction, and means a substantial financial saving for the NHS.
Find&Treat are a specialist outreach team at UCLH, set up to tackle TB among homeless people, drug or alcohol users, vulnerable migrants and people who have been in prison. These vulnerable patients often have other health problems, including Hepatitis C, and the access that the Find&Treat has to this group is unique. UCLH Charity has provided a grant of £38.3k to the service, to purchase a portable Fibroscan®, a non-invasive liver scanning device, along with a blood pressure device and approved platform scale for the existing mobile health unit which takes diagnostic equipment out to touch this hard-to-reach group and rapidly identify those who require urgent treatment.