Christie McComb – Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Christie McComb works at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow. Her job involves both research and providing clinical support and advice when children are having scans.

Magnetic resonance imaging – better known simply as MRI – is a way of seeing inside the body and uses magnetic and radio waves rather than exposing the patient to radiation like X ray or CT scans. MRI is used particularly to see inside areas surrounded by bone, like the brain or spinal cord. To get a good image, people need to lie still whilst MRI scans are being done, so small children need an anaesthetic and Christie provides safety training and advice for the anaesthetics and nursing staff working with kids. She also analyses the data form certain types of scan and writes a report to assist radiologists with their diagnosis.

Christie is involved in research. Sometimes patients are given a special dye prior to scanning which makes areas of interest show up better but it isn’t suitable for those with kidney problems. Some studies indicate that breathing pure oxygen might help to do the same job as the dye and as part of her PhD studies, Christie is trying to find out whether this technique might work when scanning the heart too.

Christie spent five years as a system engineer in the defence industry following her graduation with a physics degree but the idea of medical physics was always in the back of her mind. She got a place on the Scottish Medical Physics Training Scheme which exposed her to many different areas of medical physics but it was MRI that she found most interesting.

“The thing I most enjoy about my job is the variety, especially in the research and I enjoy being able to contribute tio patient diagnosis. I’m really glad I chose it. The technology is still advancing very quickly and there are so many opportunities for the future”.



Profile courtesy of Chief Scientific Officer, Department of Health – Professor Sue Hill