Advanced MRI System Available in Greenville

United Hospital recently installed an open bore, 1.5 Tesla, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system that combines a larger bore, or opening, for obese and claustrophobic patients with the ability to capture high-field quality diagnostic images.

Since two-thirds of American adults are overweight, the health care industry is challenged to accommodate these larger patients with imaging systems designed for people weighing much less. Currently, patients too large to fit inside the bore of a high-field MRI magnet have image studies done in open MRI systems with low-field magnets. This limits the diagnostic usefulness of the images obtained. The field strength of a magnet is measured in units of Tesla-the higher the number, the higher the field strength, and the higher the field strength, the better the quality of images produced.

Claustrophobic patients present another challenge for MRI systems. Often, they need to be sedated, adding to their inconvenience and time needed to perform an exam.

“This state-of-the-art unit is going to increase our efficiency and patient convenience,” says Erin Inman, director of diagnostic imaging, Spectrum Health United Memorial. “The patient-friendly design of this magnet will make it easier for large and claustrophobic patients to have an MRI examination, yet still produce higher quality images.”

The Siemens Medical Solutions MAGNETOM Espree at United Hospital features a bore opening of nearly 2.3 feet in diameter and almost one foot of free space between a patient’s head and the magnet. The Espree also features the shortest 1.5 Tesla magnet available.

The open design allows a patient’s feet to go in first and the head remains outside of the magnet. Since the Espree is approximately four feet long, more than 60 percent of exams can be completed with the patient’s head outside of the bore, helping to ease claustrophobia. The patient will constantly see the examination room and be able to communicate with others during the short scan time.

The new system provides up to four times more signal-to-noise ratio over traditional open MRI designs, which is desirable in imaging larger patients. In addition, the Espree can perform advanced clinical applications in less time, because it combines strong gradient performance with Siemens’ Total imaging matrix (TimTM) technology. Tim is the first whole body surface coil design that enables the highest resolution images in a shorter acquisition time. Tim coils are very light, making them both easy to position and tolerate when scanning larger patients, improving cooperation.

“It’s great for our community to have local access to an MRI of this caliber,” said Inman. “It’s also a great benefit for West Michigan. We anticipate that with the availability of this technology, patients throughout our region will be coming here for diagnostic imaging.”

For some patients, the MRI’s open design, wide bore and powerful magnet are key factors. For others, it’s the convenience of having this state-of-the-art technology available locally and the ease of scheduling. Offering comfort, quality and convenience, the new MRI helps make United Hospital in Greenville a regional destination for advanced health care.

Patients are being scheduled for testing on the new machine starting Monday, April 14.

Spectrum Health United Memorial is committed to providing excellent personal care and services through state-of-the-art technology and qualified, caring staff at the Kelsey Hospital in Lakeview and the United Hospital in Greenville. Spectrum Health United Memorial provides local access to quality care through the region’s largest health care system.

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