Local MRI Capabilities Stronger Than Ever
By Walter C. Silbert, MD
Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one of the most advanced imaging technologies in use
today. It produces exquisitely clear images of organs and structures inside the
body, providing valuable information in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide
range of medical problems.
Cayuga Medical Center completed the installation of three, state-of-the-art MRI
machines at the medical center and both Convenient Care Centers in Ithaca and
Cortland. These new machines offer advanced capabilities and superior patient
For what medical
problems is MRI most commonly used?
MRI has many
applications and is often used in the diagnosis and staging of cancer; stroke,
multiple sclerosis, and other neurological conditions; and musculoskeletal
problems such as sports injuries, arthritis, and inflammatory conditions.
How does MRI
MRI uses a strong
magnetic field, radio-wave energy, and sophisticated computer technology to
create images of the body’s organs and structures. Unlike X-ray and CT
scanning, MRI does not use ionizing radiation, which makes it very safe.
Are these three
new MRI machines identical?
The MRI machines
at Cayuga Medical Center and at the Convenient Care Center in Cortland have 1.5
Tesla magnets while the MRI installed at the Convenient Care Center in Ithaca
has a 3.0 Tesla magnet. Tesla is the international unit used to measure
invested in magnets of different strengths to best meet the needs of patients
in our region. The 1.5 Tesla MRI machines produce phenomenal images and are
appropriate for the vast majority of patients needing MRI studies. The 3.0
Tesla MRI provides improved sensitivity for tiny neurologic structures (cranial
nerves, auditory canals, pituitary glands) and small orthopedic structures (in
toes, wrists, and fingers) and is a powerful diagnostic tool for certain
oncology applications, as well.
How are these
MRIs more patient-friendly?
The design of the
new MRIs significantly reduces patient anxiety. The bore, or opening, of all of
these new machines is significantly larger than our previous machines. In fact,
these new MRIs feel much more spacious than the traditional “open MRI” machines
but without the loss of image quality of the open MRIs. The bores are also
shorter, so more MRI studies can be performed with the patient’s head outside
of the bore, diminishing that closed-in feeling. Innovative use of interior
lighting, noise reduction technology, and a sound system also improve patient
These new MRI
machines better meet the needs of different body shapes and can accommodate up
to 500 pounds. Advances in MRI techniques result in reduced examination time
and reduced need for use of intravenous contrast.
Is it safe to
have an MRI?
Patient safety is
our highest priority and our preadmission screening for MRI patients is very
thorough, in keeping with this important commitment. Because metal in the body
can move or heat up during an MRI exam, we screen patients very carefully for
implanted medical devices that contain metal. Some items considered safe for a
1.5 Tesla machine are not safe in a 3.0 Tesla machine. If you have a cardiac
pacemaker, history of metal in your eye, an implanted nerve stimulator, or
certain surgical clips, you may not be able to have an MRI.
very latest technology provides a critical advantage in the field of medical
imaging. At our imaging facilities the highest standard of professional care is
provided by registered nurses, accredited MRI technologists, and on-site
board-certified radiologists who supervise exams and can quickly respond to the
clinical questions of referring physicians and patients. My colleagues at
Cayuga Medical Center and I are excited to have such experienced staff and such
powerful tools available to enhance the multidisciplinary care of patients in
Dr. Silbert is
board certified in diagnostic radiology and is on the medical staff of Cayuga
Medical Center, where he is director of Musculoskeletal Radiology Services.