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OLBH unveils Ironton’s only open bore MRI

IRONTON — Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital’s (OLBH) Ironton Imaging Center (1005 East Ring Road, Ironton) has unveiled Ironton’s first and only 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.

“This is going to increase our efficiency and patient convenience,” Terri Hannon, OLBH director of Radiology, said. “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.”

“We’re happy to be able to bring such technology to the community of Ironton,” Kevin Halter, OLBH CEO, said. “This MRI is a great benefit to patients with its addition being an important moment in the young history of the Ironton Imaging Center. OLBH is glad to continue to expand its services in the Ironton community and to continue to provide employment opportunities for citizens of Lawrence County, which nearly 250 of our employees call home.”

“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,” Hannon said.

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. Patients can be sedated, adding to their inconvenience and the time it takes to schedule and perform an exam.

The Siemens Medical Solutions MAGNETOM Espree at the OLBH Ironton Imaging Center 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 OLBH Ironton Imaging Center opened in June. The center can be contacted at (740) 533-0735.

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 OLBH Ironton Imaging Center opened in June. The center can be contacted at (740) 533-0735.