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back to articles on "Imaging Services"
more articles by Silbert, Walter C. , MD  |  author's bio

Local MRI Capabilities Stronger Than Ever

By Walter C. Silbert, MD

 

Magnetic 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.

 

This summer 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 comfort.

 

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 work?

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 magnetic field.

 

We purposely 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 comfort.

 

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.

 

Acquiring the 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 our community.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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