It is painless and does not expose patients to any radiation. MRIs can generate thin-section images from any angle and provide additional or different information from what is seen with X-rays, ultrasound or CT scans.
MRI exams are used to diagnose or evaluate problems in the brain and spinal cord, internal organs, and bones and joints. Some more advanced MRIs – such as the Siemens 1.5 Tesla Magnetom Aera MRI system at Phelps – have special software and associated procedures for assessing and diagnosing problems with the heart and blood vessels, breasts and prostate. These are diagnostic procedures that have typically only been available at tertiary medical centers, which provide highly specialized services and expertise.
Phelps is accredited in performing cardiac MRI, which through views of still and moving images, is used to diagnose and assess conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, inflammation, tumors, valve problems, congenital defects (present at birth) and damage from a heart attack.
With Phelps’ new MRI and its special cardiac software and EKG leads, patients have access to noninvasive cardiac catheterization. Performed to determine how well the heart is working, catheterization is usually an invasive procedure, so the new method is a welcome option for many patients.
Breast MRI and MRI-Guided Biopsy
The new MRI at Phelps also has advanced capabilities for diagnosing breast disease. Breast MRI creates images that show the breast’s normal structure, tissue damage, infection, inflammation or lumps. It is most often done when a mammogram or breast ultrasound have not conclusively shown if a lump is cancerous. Breast MRI is considered the gold standard in follow-up imaging for heterogeneous dense breasts. It is also appropriate for monitoring women who are at increased risk of breast cancer or for examining women with breast implants.
For MRI-guided breast biopsy, a 3-D cross-sectional image of the breast is generated to help the physician determine the exact location for inserting a needle to obtain sample tissue for analysis.
Fusion-Guided Prostate Biopsy
New technology uses MRI and ultrasound together to precisely target lesions for biopsy, avoiding the taking of biopsies randomly (Fusion-guided prostate biopsy).
“All hospitals can do the basics when it comes to imaging techniques, but the MRI capabilities that we now have at Phelps are usually reserved for large tertiary hospitals,” says Ben Siniscalchi, manager of radiology. “Magnetic resonance imaging is an important option for testing our patients, and we now have a more robust arsenal for diagnosing disease, particularly cardiac disease and cancer. We strive for a continuum of care by offering as many diagnostic procedures at Phelps as we possibly can, so our patients don’t have to travel to different locations for their tests.”
In June, Phelps acquired an MRI-safe physiomonitoring machine, which allows MRIs to be done on critical care patients who must remain connected to EKG leads for continuous monitoring of their vital signs during their MRI test. The physiomonitoring machine can check a patient’s oxygen level and other vital signs.
“The MRI Center is so busy because of the new capabilities and expertise we now offer, we’ve begun the process of acquiring a second MRI system to handle the volume,” says Siniscalchi.