New Dimension in Open MRI and Patient Comfort

Kona Community Hospital will be installing the region’s first Open Bore, 1.5 Tesla, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system that combines a larger bore, or opening, for obese and claustrophobic patients with the ability to capture high-field quality diagnostic images. The new machine is set to provide services to the West Hawaii Community by August 18, 2011.

“This is going to increase our efficiency and patient convenience,” says Melody Sulliban, Director of Imaging at Kona Community Hospital. “The patient-friendly design of this magnet will make it easier for large patients and those with claustrophobia to have a MRI examination which produces higher quality images. This will potentially reduce the need to repeat and interrupt exams. It will also enable us to perform other MRI services in areas that we could not before such as the breast and extremities.”

“Certainly, all patients deserve the same access to innovative medical imaging technology used for visualization, diagnosis and treatment planning of cancer, diabetes, heart and vascular disorders and other diseases associated with obesity,” says Jeffery Bundy, president of the MR Division of Siemens Medical Solutions.

Since two-thirds of American adults are overweight, the health-care industry is challenged to accommodate these larger patients with imaging systems that were designed for people who weigh much less. Currently, patients too large to fit inside the bore of a high-field MRI magnet have image studies done in open MRI systems with low-field magnets. This limits the diagnostic usefulness of the images obtained. The field strength of a magnet is measured in units of Tesla – the higher the number, the higher the field strength. The higher the field strength, the better the quality of images produced.

Claustrophobic patients present another challenge for MRI systems. They can be sedated, adding to their inconvenience and the time it takes to schedule and perform an exam.

The Siemens Medical Solutions MAGNETOM Espree installed at Kona Community Hospital features a bore opening of nearly 2.3 feet in diameter and almost one foot of free space between a patient’s head and the magnet. The Espree also features the shortest 1.5 Tesla magnet available. Approximately four feet long, the magnet allows more than 60 percent of exams to be completed with the patient’s head outside the bore, helping to ease claustrophobia.

The new system provides up to four times more signal-to-noise ratio over traditional open MR designs, which is desirable in imaging larger patients. In addition, the Espree can perform advanced clinical applications in less time, because it combines strong gradient performance with Siemens’ Total imaging matrix (Tim™) technology. Tim is the first whole body surface coil design that enables the highest resolution images in a shorter acquisition time. Tim coils are very light, making them both easy to position and tolerate when scanning larger patients, improving cooperation.

The MAGNETOM Espree provides best patient comfort and high-quality images and diagnostic confidence for all types of patients.

Lance Anderson, Assistant Administrator at Kona Community Hospital commented, “Not only does our new MRI machine provide better image quality and more comfort to patients, we will also be renovating the MRI suite and eventually other imaging areas in order to have a more welcoming and relaxing setting to provide a great experience for our patients.”