The Radiology Department at the Churchill Hospital (part of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust) has just been licensed to manufacture Hyperpolarised Xenon gas for patient use. This is only the second site in the UK to be granted permission to use the gas for lung imaging. Clinical trials using the gas should begin within the next couple of months.
Hyperpolarised xenon gas is produced in the lab at the Churchill Hospital and is then inhaled by the patient while they are in an MRI scanner. The gas helps the radiologist to visualise lung structures that are usually invisible by conventional methods. This groundbreaking process, used in very few centres around the world, helps doctors and researchers understand how the lungs work so they can refine their diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of lung disease. It also enables doctors to repeatedly scan people safely with chronic lung conditions. Currently CT scans are the best available method but the introduction of Hyperpolarised Xenon imaging provides a more measurable way of seeing how air moves around the lungs.
Fergus Gleeson, Professor of Radiology said: “For the first time we are able to map structure, function and perfusion data that opens up a whole new area of research for us, which potentially will have very significant clinical implications for patients.”