LUMBERTON — Southeastern Regional Medical Center has a new, larger machine for patients who need a magnetic resonance image, or MRI.
Magnetic resonance image exams are a non-invasive way to provide diagnostic images of soft tissue, bone and muscle. They are one of the fastest growing types of medical diagnostic tests in the United States. The hospital’s new machine, a MAGNETOM Aera 1.5 T MRI System from Siemens, was installed in the spring and features a larger bore — the tube in the middle where the patient lies — and provides patients with a more comfortable exam and provides doctors with more detailed images.
The new MRI is located in SRMC’s Medical Imaging Department’s radiology suite and can provide high resolution images used in neurology, orthopedics, body imaging, angiography and oncology.
“MRI technology is continuously improving,” said Dr. Jim Parker, a radiologist. “This new equipment will improve our ability to find disease and detect injuries. Patients will appreciate the more spacious bore. Surgeons and other health care providers will appreciate the sharper pictures.”
Like all MRI’s, the MAGNETOM Aera uses magnets that are measured in Tesla (T) to acquire images. At 1.5T, the MAGNETOM Aera offers superb image quality that can help physicians make quicker, more accurate diagnoses in a wide range of medical needs, from orthopedic and sports-related injuries to breast cancer testing. Exclusive Siemens technologies in the machine’s software also improves workflow for the technicians, including motion correction software, which allows the MRI to proceed even when a patient is unable to lie completely still.
“With the old technology, if patients, for instance, had labored breathing we wouldn’t have been able to get an image,” said Kimberly Pittman, chief MRI technologist. “Patients still need to lie as still as possible, but the new software can correct a lot of small movement now. The new technology also gives sharper imaging; there’s a lot more contrast. It can better detect things like small fractures, the characteristics of a mass, or anything else tiny and detailed, like the optic nerves in the eye.”
The MAGNETOM Aera boasts a 70-centimeter open bore and can provide access for patients who weigh up to 550 pounds. Additionally, the bore is very short, just 145 centimeters, which can help some patients who experience claustrophobia because many exams can be performed with the patient’s head is outside the bore.
Another patient-friendly feature includes a lighting mural on the ceiling, which can help create a calming environment for patients in the examination room.