WCVM MRI/LinAcc Installation

In 2010, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) made plans for the purchase of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit. The existing MRI was outdated and could no longer meet current medical imaging needs. It was removed in the summer of 2010 and plans to renovate the MRI suite were underway when the opportunity arose for WCVM to purchase a linear accelerator (LinAcc) from the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency in the spring of 2011. This was a tremendous opportunity for the college to replace the old cobalt therapy unit and bring veterinary cancer therapy capabilities to current standards.

When it was determined that both the MRI and the LinAcc could use the same new cooling system, the projects were combined. The new devices would fit in the spaces previously occupied by the old MRI and cobalt therapy units, however, the supporting infrastructure had to be modified to accommodate the new cooling system and equipment.

Demolition involved removal of old services and select walls to make room for the new equipment. Cooling and ventilation upgrades included the installation of a new chiller, fluid cooler, and associated pumps, piping, and duct work modifications. New electrical distribution equipment, including motor control centre, service distribution panel, variable frequency drives, transformers, and associated conduit and wiring, were installed. Lighting in the MRI suite was also upgraded to suit the new equipment.

With construction nearing completion, the new MRI facility will provide enhanced medical imaging capabilities that are essential for teaching and clinical programs at the WCVM. The LinAcc will expand opportunities for the university to contribute to the field of veterinary oncology.

In addition to their importance as clinical tools, the new MRI and LinAcc will be valuable resources for veterinary and human biomedical researchers. This equipment will strengthen collaborative partnerships with human health research and will open doors for more studies involving animal cancers as comparative models for human patients.

The units will enhance the education and training of undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in veterinary, biomedical, and medical programs. When combined with WCVM’s new capabilities in CT imaging and Nuclear Scintigraphy, the possibilities for patient care and collaborative research are multiplied. 

Providing the diagnostic capability for the new MRI and the therapeutic enhancement of the LinAcc within the Veterinary Medical Centre (VMC) will align with ongoing priorities in the college to enhance biomedical and clinical research. It also supports the campus-wide initiative in the area of One Health and strengthens ties between the health sciences areas.

The project began last fall and should be completed in spring 2012.