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Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 07:00 AM

Larger, quieter MRI means better images

A new MRI just installed at Marshall North is more comfortable for patients because it is roomier and quieter.

The Optima* MR450w MR system weighs 13,000 pounds and had to be brought in with a crane. A large hole was cut into the outside wall of the hospital to get the machine inside. The opening is being repaired as the rest of the room is renovated with fresh paint, new flooring and cabinetry. It will be ready for patients in mid-June.


1. It's roomier.

One reason for that decision was that the weight capacity on MMC’s older machine was 350 pounds. The new one can accommodate a patient up to 500 pounds. That means more comfort for all patients. The older machine was sold to a company that will refurbish it, which reduced the price tag of buying new.

“It’s capable of accommodating larger patients and hopefully will reduce claustrophobia because the opening is larger,” said Wade Wright, director of diagnostic imaging for Marshall Medical Centers. “Patients won’t feel squeezed so it will be a more relaxing environment.”

2. It's faster.

It also produces images faster than older MRIs it replaces.

“Patients may not have to be in as long because it’s faster with better imaging,” Wright said.

3. It produces higher quality images.

Another feature of the new system is advanced vascular and neuro imaging, which improves visibility of the blood vessels, brain and skeletal systems. Previous systems required an injection of contrast dye into the bloodstream to make blood vessels visible; the higher quality possible with the new system makes contrast unnecessary. It also provides advanced imaging for breast MRIs, if mammography reveals a mass that needs further testing.

The previous MRI – which stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging – was installed in 2004. As technology develops, health providers must choose whether to upgrade or replace aging equipment. In this case, Wright said it made more sense to buy new.

The MRI at Marshall South will be replaced in late June or July with the same system just installed at North. Marshall North was done first because less construction was required. The current MRI at South is housed in an area of the hospital without an exterior wall to cut through.