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  • Northern Regional Unveils Advanced MRI Technology


    Northern Regional Hospital operationalized the hospital’s brand new GE Signa™ Artist 1.5T Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner February 2020.  The new GE MRI scanner system, which replaced an older GE model, is now the most sophisticated 1.5T MRI scanner in the immediate multi-county region. 

     “We are excited to bring this state-of-the-art technology to our local and regional patients, who will benefit significantly from its enhanced imaging capabilities and patient-friendly features,” said Michael Leonard, Director of Imaging Services for Northern Regional Hospital.  The new scanner has a larger opening or donut hole, as we like to call it, and a longer patient table – both of which can better accommodate larger and heavier patients (up to 500 pounds) while providing a less-confining space for the patient during the exam.  The enhanced computer processing software used by the new scanner is GE’s latest, producing exceptional image quality that better details a patient’s anatomy for doctors to evaluate.

    An important, non-invasive medical diagnostic tool, MRI scanners use a combination of powerful magnets, radio waves, and a computer to create detailed images of a patient’s organs, soft tissue, bone, and other internal bodily structures.  The MRI scan images are interpreted by radiologists, to diagnose patient’s clinical problems or responses to courses of therapeutic treatments.  

    Commitment to Patient Care
    “Northern Regional Hospital’s new MRI scanner system represents our ongoing commitment to provide high-quality, safe care to patients, as well as enable our physicians to access the most sophisticated diagnostic technology available today,” said Chris A. Lumsden, President & Chief Executive Officer of Northern Regional Hospital.  “We are pleased to offer patients in our service area the convenience and comfort of obtaining top-quality MRI scans.  We also look forward to continuing to push the envelope in terms of providing patients with the best medical and technological advances in healthcare today.”  

    Northern Regional’s new MRI scanner system, a $2 million capital investment, took nearly a year to morph from initial research to final project completion.  Last spring technical leaders within Northern Imaging Services began looking into the purchase of a new scanner.  After gaining valuable input from the hospital’s specialty physicians, key administrators, MRI technologists, and from the highly specialized radiologists that interpret those scans, it was clear that image quality, patient comfort, and safety were the priority considerations.  

     “The scanner we selected produces diagnostic images a bit quicker than most other scanners using this magnet– that results in slightly reduced scan times for patients as well as top-quality images,” said Dennis M. Clemens, MD, Radiology Medical Director for Imaging Services at Northern.  He explains that the difference in quality between images produced by the hospital’s new scanner versus older models is somewhat like comparing HD (High Definition) TV to the latest Ultra-HD TV, except much more so.  “With our new MRI scanner, that technology allows for more adequate scan times while producing higher-quality images for diagnostic purposes – all of which ultimately translates into more comfortable and more accommodating patient care,” he adds.

    Future MRI Studies for Prostate Cancer 
    Urologist David Werle, MD, with Northern Urology, is looking forward to the use of the new MRI to perform prostate imaging, including the detection and diagnosis of cancer of the prostate.  “Prostate MRI is an important new tool we use in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer,” said Dr. Werle.  “Going forward, our patients will have the comfort and convenience of being able to have their MRI performed locally.”

    Training and Growth
    Due to the sophistication of the new MRI scanner’s software and related hardware components, its manufacturer provided in-depth training for users – including, most notably, the specialty-trained technologists who oversee and conduct the actual scanning exams.  To that end, all of Northern Regional’s fully-certified technologists (American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, or ARRT) received intensive classroom instruction, followed by one-on-one on-site training in the best use of the scanner and its patient-friendly features – which promote enhanced patient comfort with top-end quality scans.  “Because of the wider and more spacious opening inside the new MRI scanner, some tests – which previously required that patients be slowly positioned head-first into the bore, or center, of the machine -- now permit patients to be positioned feet-first,” explained Jason Edsall, MD, Chief of Medical Officer at Northern.  “That kind of positional change helps patients feel less claustrophobic, thereby improving the patient experience.”  

    With its new, more-powerful MRI scanner, Northern Regional Hospital expects to increase overall annual volume of diagnostic MRI studies – thereby providing improved diagnosis and treatment plans for more patients.  “Our top priority is, and always will be, the delivery of high-quality care,” emphasizes Northern’s President & CEO Chris Lumsden.  “With this state-of-the-art MRI scanner system, we will be able to significantly expand our outreach and effectiveness in providing the most advanced care to patients.”  

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