New MRI at Intermountain Medical Center — the first of its kind in Salt Lake County — offers a more comfortable experience and superior images.

Jess Gomez

 (801) 718-8495

 jess.gomez@imail.org

 8/8/2014

Patients coming to Intermountain Medical Center for an MRI exam can expect a much more comfortable experience thanks to an upgraded MRI magnet and improvements to the room that contains it. The new MRI scanner is the first of it’s kind in the Salt Lake area and features a larger opening for patients, sound reducing technology, and will generate more detailed images than ever before. 

More about the MRI and upgraded suite: 

The new 1.5 Tesla MRI has a wide bore design, meaning the scanner core opening is a full ten centimeters larger than its predecessor. Ten centimeters may not sound like much, but it can make a big difference for someone who is claustrophobic. The larger opening also allows the hospital to scan much larger patients — the new machine can easily scan patients weighing up to 500 pounds, instead of the former weight limit of 350 pounds. 

The upgraded MRI’s advanced imaging capabilities will generate images with much finer detail, making it possible to map the nerve fiber tracks for neurologic studies and map the cartilage in orthopedic studies. The scanner’s increased speed and image quality will also allow better heart and vascular imaging. 

Linda Campbell, MRI coordinator for Intermountain Medical Center, says that the best part about getting the new MRI is being able to remodel the suite it sits in at the same time.

“When we started talking about replacing the outpatient MRI scanner with a new one, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to redesign the MRI suite with the patient in mind,” Campbell said. “The goal was to humanize the room — to make it more comfortable and less clinical for our patients. I think we’ve accomplished that.” 

The updated suite was designed to be more inviting and allows patients to have some control over their experience. Instead of clinical white walls, light panels have been installed on the walls and each patient can change the lighting to any color scheme they want. Patients are also given headphones so that they can listen to calming music or even plug in their own iPod during the scan. There is a 70-inch television installed on the ceiling and patients can choose what to watch during their scan — including their own movies from home. Plus all the equipment and supplies have been hidden away in cabinets and cupboards, creating a much cleaner and more comfortable environment.
Campbell says that they've already received great feedback from patients. "We've seen several patients who normally would need to be sedated during the scan but made it through just fine without any medication. One woman even said that she felt like she'd been in a spa and was ready for her massage and manicure next.

“We’re really excited to finally have this new equipment online,” Campbell said. “It will really make a big difference for our patients, especially those who struggle with small spaces or noise. The advanced images it provides will also help us provide better care and save lives. And designing the suite with the patient is mind just makes sense.” To find out more about the open house or the new MRI, call 801-507-5350. 

What goes into replacing an MRI? Here’s a look at the construction project 

Considering that an MRI magnet weighs close to 25,000 pounds, the project of replacing Intermountain Medical Center’s old MRI with a brand new 1.5 Tesla wide bore MRI took a lot of planning and effort. 

The project began with figuring out how to get the old MRI, which had been in place since the hospital opened in 2007, out of the building. The hospital brought in a mobile MRI unit so that patient care could continue while the construction process was underway. Crews had to remove a large section of the wall on the exterior of the building and then a combination of forklifts and a crane were used to slide the huge magnet out the hole and lower it down to the ground from it’s 2nd floor perch. 

Once the old scanner was out, crews worked to get the suite ready for the upgraded machine. Then a similar process of cranes and forklifts was use to scoot the new scanner into place. After that, the missing wall was reinstalled and crews worked around the MRI to finish the patient-friendly suite.
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