New MRI Enhances Patient Comfort

For many patients, having an MRI(magnetic resonance imaging) can be at best unpleasant, and at worst, terrifying. The standard MRI machine requires the patient to lie still in a narrow tube for anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, surrounded by the pounding noise of the magnet. Patient anxiety and claustrophobia can cause scans to be interrupted and uncompleted.

Health care professionals use MRI to diagnose a variety of conditions, from torn ligaments to tumors. It is especially valuable for examining the brain and spinal cord. Despite its benefits as a diagnostic tool, for many patients undergoing an MRI, the experience can be uncomfortable, loud, and extremely distressing for those who have claustrophobia.

Firelands Regional Medical Center recently installed a new General Electric MRI system that has dramatically improved patient experience and produces sharper, clearer, and more detailed diagnostic images.

Enhanced MRI Comfort

The new MRI features Silent Scan noise reduction technology and a wider scanning bore (the tube where the scans are taken) than previous MRI models. Additional comfort upgrades to improve the patient experience include dense foam padding on the table to minimize pressure points and the ability for feet-first entry and scanning to enable the patient to maintain eye contact with their technologist.

This new MRI is housed within the Caring MRI Suite, designed to reduce patient anxiety, claustrophobia, and the need for sedation. Patients will enter the Caring MRI Suite and personalize the suite to please their senses of sight and sound, resulting in a more relaxed and less anxious atmosphere. There is a monitor in the scanning bore for those undergoing head scans and a monitor on the ceiling of the MRI room for those whose heads can remain outside the bore. Patients can select a favorite nature theme, room lighting color, music, and even a favorite movie. The nature themes feature original 4K nature videos created specifically for patients that can be paired with soothing music. Patients can request a music style or enjoy their music on a compatible smartphone, MP3 player, or CD. They can even preview and choose a nature theme in a waiting area before their exam or view videos in advance to help ease anxiety.

Mike Vickery, Director of Imaging Services at Firelands, enlisted the help of neurologist Steven Benedict, MD, and neuroradiologist Mark A. Buehler II, MD, when researching the more advanced MRI units. "We initially looked at three MRI companies.  We visited several hospitals to learn how the different types of machines compared to each other regarding software availability, patient comfort, and diagnostic capability,” says Mike. “The General Electric MRI and Caring MRI Suite had technological advances in both patient comfort and image quality that the others lacked.”

The improvement in patient experience and MRI scan quality has been significant.  “Having a wider and shorter scan chamber and installing the Caring MRI Suite has made the experience much more positive for patients. Anxiety has decreased, which means less patient movement, less interruption of scans, and less need for sedation. As for scan quality, the magnet's strength in the new MRI is twice as much as that of the previous MRI, resulting in much clearer images," says Mike.