WVU to offer Open MRI

Patients can choose their own “ambient experience”

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Patients who once feared going into the tube of the magnetic resonance imager (MRI) will now be able to undergo an open procedure with a little more ambiance.

Cathy Bierer, MRI manager for the WVU Department of Radiology’s Center for Advanced Imaging, said the new Open MRI unit is ideal for pediatric patients as well as those who are claustrophobic or large-bodied. The equipment can accommodate anyone weighing 1 - 550 pounds.

WVU’s Open MRI also includes an ambient experience function, which allows patients to choose audio and video experiences that are projected onto the wall of the MRI room. Patients can select one of 10 ambient options that combine colored lighting, pictures and sounds. Some ambient theme options include real places such as Australia and Africa and kid-friendly themes like the jungle and underwater.

The $2.5 million imager is the state’s only high-field Open MRI with a strength of 1.0 tesla. High-field magnets provide more detailed images. The Philips manufactured technology purchased by University Health Associates equals the functioning of a 1.5 tesla unit because its movable bed positions the patient underneath the isocenter of the magnet.

Bierer said the ambient experience was an additional option purchased to help patients relax during the scan. The openness of the machine combined with the sights and sounds make the MRI friendlier to pediatric patients. It also helps reduce the need for sedation in children.

Jeff Carpenter, M.D., medical director of the MRI Center, said the ability to see out of the machine helps claustrophobic patients feel less confined and therefore allows them to get more comfortable. When patients are comfortable and relaxed, they move less and help produce better quality images.

The Open MRI is located on the first floor of the Physician Office Center on the WVU Health Sciences campus.  A public open house will be held on April 13. The center will begin scheduling appointments on April 14.

To make an appointment, call 304-293-7521.  For more information about the WVU Center for Advanced Imaging, visit http://www.health.wvu.edu/general/Resources/

- WVU -

For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087
asj: 04-07-08

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