THE John Radcliffe Hospital has become home to the UK’s most powerful MRI scanner.

It is hoped the £4.75m machine, which is five times more powerful than a standard MRI scanner, will turn the Oxford hospital into a national flagship centre for detecting and understanding brain disorders.

The 7 Tesla Siemens scanner arrived for use at the Functional MRI for the Brain Centre (FMRIB) at the hospital, part of Oxford University’s Medical Science division, on Sunday.

An MRI scan works by using a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create pictures of tissue, organs and other structures inside the body.

The machine at the John Radcliffe is part of an £8.2m investment by the Medical Research Council in imaging infrastructure which included the installation of two other scanners at the hospital earlier this year.

Prof Irene Tracey, director of the FMRIB Centre, said the scanner is one of only about 30 of its kind in the world and the only one being used in the UK at the moment.

She said: “The 7 Tesla Siemens is five times more sensitive to brain functions than the model currently being used.

“Scans undertaken with the new equipment will enable researchers to see much finer detail images.”

Prof Tracey said the scanner would allow quicker diagnosis of illnesses and conditions such as alzheimer’s and epilepsy.

She said: “Early diagnoses means we can potentially get people on therapies and treatments earlier and can better understand the conditions which lead to the disease.”