Cole unveils new MRI scanner

West Ham United midfielder Joe Cole has officially opened a new £1.5m 3-Tesla MRI scanner at Holly House Hospital in Buckhurst Hill.

The revolutionary machine is the first of its kind in Essex and the surrounding area and means Holly House can provide more detailed images with greater resolution and also scan smaller lesions and anatomy, particularly in musculoskeletal, oncology and brain imaging.

Cole cut the ribbon to open the scanner, making Holly House one of only a handful of independent hospitals outside central London to have a 3-Tesla - tesla is the unit of magnet strength - MRI scanner.

The Hammers use diagnostic services at Holly House to assess the fitness and health of players through diagnostic investigation, meaning Cole has been a regular visitor since his return to the Club in January 2013.

He said: "On behalf of West Ham United Football Club, I would like to thank Holly House for all the help they have given us over the years. We know how the MRI scanner can help with hamstring strain, ankle problems and so on. But, we also understand how important the scanner is to the local community's health."

Holly House

Pictured: (right to left) Walter Maningoe (Philips), Keri Powell (Holly House Hospital Lead MRI Radiographer) Steve Matthews (Philips), Joe Cole, Michele Fox (Holly House Hospital Imaging Services Manager), Dr Sean Howlett (West Ham United club doctor), Phil Bates (Holly House Hospital Director) and Paul Ringwald (Philips)

Patients can enter the new MRI either feet or head first, so along with the larger magnet bore the whole experience of having an MRI is far more comfortable and less claustrophobic for patients. The process is also far quicker and faster on a 3-Tesla scanner. The higher resolution imaging means that it will no longer always be necessary to inject a dye into patients to pick up internal images for certain examinations.

Holly House imaging services manager Michele Fox said: "The 3T MRI scanner is a new generation in imaging technology - the imaging quality is very advanced and enables us to see very fine bone and joint detail. We can even look at fine detailed imaging of the brain.

"Cancer patients will benefit from this advanced technology greatly and for the first time ever our diagnostics team will now be able to undertake cardiac work - which opens up a whole new world of imaging for us."

This additional investment follows a major £20m expansion project at Holly House in 2013, which doubled the size of the hospital's premises. New facilities within the £20m development include a new outpatients department, with 23 consulting rooms, as well as three new integrated theatres, a pharmacy, pathology lab and endoscopy unit.