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Heart Institute

Coming Soon: The Transformative Dickinson Image-Guided Intervention Center Nears Completion

By Stephanie Thompson

Five years after Kanishka Ratnayaka, MD, was recruited to Rady Children’s to reimagine the way the Hospital delivers interventional cardiac care, the Dickinson Image-Guided Intervention Center is set to open later this year. Thanks to the vision, leadership and generosity of the Donald C. and Elizabeth M. Dickinson Foundation and other donors, the dream is finally taking shape.

The Dickinson Foundation, which has a history of supporting San Diego organizations dedicated to education and health, gave Dr. Ratnayaka’s plans their first big boost with a lead gift to establish the center. Dr. Ratnayaka was eager to take on the challenge because he saw that Rady Children’s “has a top-notch group of clinicians, not only in providing care for patients, but also in thinking about the future of the field. I saw an opportunity to build something special.”

The new center will be able to help children with a number of conditions, but will focus on those with cardiac disease. Dr. Ratnayaka has been the prime mover in this effort, recruiting an imaging scientist and other personnel and developing plans for the site itself. “I walked the construction site just the other day, and we are getting close,” he says. “It’s awesome to see the progress, and I’m excited for the care we will be able to provide children in San Diego, Southern California and beyond.”

Dr. Ratnayaka has spent more than a decade working on real-time cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, an alternative to X-ray fluoroscopy. This emerging technology produces no harmful radiation, provides clearer pictures and will revolutionize how catheterization procedures are performed. It means fewer invasive surgeries and procedures for children, less strain on their small bodies, and greater peace of mind for them and their families. With the benefit of this advanced imaging, diagnostic and interventional procedures such as stent placement and valve repair will be offered with minimal or no harmful radiation exposure. Faster, better cardiac MRI offers the prospect of sedation-free studies without anesthesia. Dr. Ratnayaka has worked closely with the device company on developing this state-of-the-art technology—technology that is not yet available at any other pediatric center.

Patients of the Rady Children’s Heart Institute, led by cardiologist John Moore, MD, MPH, and cardiothoracic surgeon John J. Nigro, MD, will be among the beneficiaries of Dr. Ratnayaka’s efforts.

“The Dickinson Image-Guided Intervention Center, the nation’s first image-guided intervention center for children, will transform the way we care for children with heart disease and even non-cardiac disease, such as lung, airway and brain problems,” Dr. Ratnayaka says. “We’ll be able to do what we do every day, but better. Even more exciting, we’ll be able to do things we can’t do today—brand-new procedures simply because we can see better with real-time MRI technology.”

Kris Dickinson, executive director of the Dickinson Foundation, says, “For us and our family, knowing the Image-Guided Intervention Center will make diagnosis and treatment more accurate and less difficult for young patients and their families is incredibly meaningful. We are thrilled to be part of this groundbreaking center.”

Get a Glimpse of Our Image-Guided Intervention Center

Compared to the national benchmark, over the past two years, Rady Children’s Heart Institute has achieved the following:

  • A lower mortality rate
  • Lower rates of re-admission
  • complete absence of catheter-associated urinary tract infections
  • Fewer ventilator-associated pneumonia infections
  • 50-percent reduction in the number of patient days on narcotics (over the last 18 months)
  • Parent satisfaction survey results that show a unanimous preference for Rady Children’s Heart Institute compared to similar inpatient units

In 2019, Rady Children’s Heart Institute Accomplished the Following:


Published in Healthy Kids magazine, Summer 2021