August 20, 2004

New high-powered MRI yields faster scans, clearer images

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Jeff Landman, M.D., is the medical director of Vanderbilt Hillsboro Imaging, which recently began scanning patients with a new, high-powered MRI. (photo by Anne Rayner)

New high-powered MRI yields faster scans, clearer images

Patients who go to Vanderbilt Hillsboro Imaging in Hillsboro Village for an MRI are getting the picture.

A new high-powered MRI will create images up to twice as fast and twice as clear as the previous machine being used at the clinic.

“That’s the real clinical advantage,” said Jeff Landman, M.D., medical director of Vanderbilt Hillsboro Imaging. “Less time, less claustrophobia and a better image. It’s a better way to take care of patients.”

The machine purchased by the imaging center is a General Electric Signa Excite 3.0T MRI, and is considered the most advanced technology of its kind in the world.

MRI technology uses computers and magnetic fields, rather than radiation to capture images of the human body. The “3T” stands for magnet strength — the higher the number, the better image will be. The old MRI was 1.0T. Vanderbilt Hillsboro Imaging has the only 3T MRI in Middle Tennessee. Next year, the Medical Center will acquire two 3T scanners.

A patient’s total time in the MRI will now be about 20 minutes, instead of 45 minutes, which will allow the clinic to see more patients each day.

“We’ll probably see about one-third more patients in the same period of time than we did before the 3T,” Landman said. “ I think there’s a large group of patients that can benefit from having high quality images in short scanning times.”

Images of small cartilage and tendons in areas like the knees, wrists and ankles will be particularly enhanced with the new machine.

Landman said the machine will open up multiple new diagnostic possibilities. Highly detailed pictures of anatomy and pathology will help doctors evaluate a wider range of conditions including stroke, cancer, musculoskeletal and heart disease.

Detecting the early stages of brain abnormalities and diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s is a newer application of the device, which Landman predicts will be utilized more often.

Perhaps the most exciting new application of the MRI is that it could replace traditional, invasive CT angiograms, also called arteriograms. The machine provides clear images of blood vessels and veins in the legs.

“We’re on the front edge of this technology,” Landman said. “We are excited to be the first in Middle Tennessee to introduce 3T technology in the marketplace.”

An open house will be held at Vanderbilt Hillsboro Imaging to display the new MRI machine Sept. 29-30, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. each day. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 777-9729. Vanderbilt Hillsboro Imaging is located at 1909 Acklen Ave. in Hillsboro Village.