Spectrum Health Installs High Definition MRI

Powerful diagnostic imaging technology enables more detailed exams

Spectrum Health is the first health system in West Michigan to offer state-of-the-art high definition magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Acquired this spring, the 3.0 Tesla (3T) MRI scanner is the most powerful magnet strength available for routine clinical use. It will be used at Butterworth Hospital and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.’

This advanced magnetic resonance technology will provide physicians with highly detailed pictures of anatomy and pathology to help them evaluate a wide range of patient conditions, including neurological and breast disease. Spectrum Health performed nearly 32,000 MRIs in 2007.

“This new diagnostic equipment improves the quality of care and health outcomes for our patients. By monitoring changes in technology, we ensure that Spectrum Health remains on the leading edge of health care and our patients reap the benefits,” said Lisa Shannon, vice president, ambulatory services, Spectrum Health Grand Rapids. “The 3T MRI is built precisely to handle the types of studies that are becoming increasingly important in the diagnosis of disease.”

Spectrum Health has purchased two Signa HDx 3T MRI units from GE Healthcare. Both will be located at Butterworth Hospital, easily accessible to patients receiving care in other parts of the Spectrum Health Medical Center, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and the soon-to-open Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion. One 3T MRI will become operational in June; the second will be installed in the fall.’

Magnetic resonance imaging is a diagnostic procedure that creates pictures, or images, of the body’s internal structures by using a computer, a large magnet and radiofrequencies. MRIs are produced without the use of radiation. The images are read and interpreted by a radiologist, a physician who has special training in MRIs and other types of imaging.’

The “T” in 3T stands for tesla which refers to the strength of the magnet. Standard MRI equipment has been at the 1.5T level.

Spectrum Health’s system also features GE’s EXCITE data management platform which improves image quality.’The latest scanning techniques can also correct for patient motion, which can be critical to diagnose patients who might have difficulty holding still for an MRI, including adults with Parkinson’s disease and small children.’These patients can be diagnosed faster without having to repeat scans.

The stronger magnet of 3T is also the key to new advanced imaging techniques, especially those involving the brain. “MRI technology is moving from showing how the brain looks to how it works,” said Brad Betz, a radiologist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “Our greater understanding of brain function is changing how treatment decisions are made and improving patient outcomes.”‘

Special application used with 3T MRI include functional MRI (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging, which are being used by physicians to understand brain disorders and plan for surgery.’

Additional benefits to 3T MRI include advanced capabilities and enhanced applications, such as:

  • Brain imaging with uncompromised image quality, despite patient motion
  • Breast imaging with unprecedented clarity, which may eliminate the need for biopsy in some cases and improve cancer detection
  • Evaluation of diabetic patients for reduced blood flow to the lower legs by capturing high-resolution detail all the way down to critical vessels of the foot
  • High-resolution images in the abdomen, for liver exams with shorter breath holds and better organ coverage than previously possible

“With this improved technology, our radiologists will be able to offer the most comprehensive breadth of MR procedures in West Michigan, providing optimal diagnostic capabilities for the assessment of the brain, spine, breast, abdomen, pelvis, blood vessels, and joints,” said Larry Genzink, diagnostic imaging director, Spectrum Health.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is West Michigan’s largest children’s hospital, serving children and families throughout a 37-county region. A teaching hospital, it includes more than 150 pediatric specialty physicians uniquely skilled in providing medical and surgical care to children in more than 40 pediatric specialties. The hospital cares for more than 7,500 inpatients and 150,000 outpatients annually. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is committed to caring for children and families with compassion, excellence and innovation.’Visit’ ‘for more information.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through its seven hospitals, more than 140 service sites and 560,000-member health plan, Priority Health.’Spectrum Health’s 14,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care to those in medical need.’The organization provided $98.6 million in community benefit during its 2007 fiscal year. Spectrum Health has earned more than 50 national awards during the past 10 years.