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New MRI Ensures Equal Access to Quality Care

May 01, 2007
Lebanon, NH

A cutting-edge new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system now in place at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) offers patients with special needs a more open design, yet provides physicians with the high quality diagnostic images not available from standard open MRI machines.

Photo of Espree MRI
The MAGNETOM Espree from Siemens Medical Solutions is the world's first open bore 1.5 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system

The first of its kind in New Hampshire, the new Espree 'Open-Bore' MRI offers a great deal more space than standard MRI machines which helps to address issues of comfort for larger patients, those with claustrophobia, or elderly and pediatric patients who need special accommodations.

"The Espree really does offer the best of both worlds," said Dr. Peter Spiegel MD, Chair of the Department of Radiology at DHMC and a professor of radiology at Dartmouth Medical School. "There are obvious advantages to patients afforded by the more spacious open-bore design, and from a clinical perspective, we get the much higher quality diagnostic images we prefer that are simply not available from an open-MRI with significantly lower field strength."

Spiegel said that the Espree should also allow for greater efficiency in the MRI suite at DHMC and improve access for patients because the open-bore design should lead to fewer patients requiring sedation before entering the MRI machine, now estimated at between 10-15 percent.

The Espree MRI is a 1.5 Tesla system (Tesla is a measure of magnetic field strength) which is more than double that of many current open MRI which are rated at 0.7 Tesla or lower. In diagnostic imaging, a greater field strength means a higher quality image and greater contrast is possible.

The Espree's design also means that it can accommodate patients weighing up to 440 pounds, and that claustrophobic patients will no longer have the ceiling of the magnet right next to their nose. In fact, the new open bore system offers 12 inches of space above the patient's head.

"This is far more than just 'a new gadget,' it is a true advance in the science that provides a better experience for patients, and offers equal access to the highest quality diagnostic imaging regardless of a patient's special needs." Spiegel said. "For those of us on the clinical side, it offers greater efficiency and provides the advanced imaging capabilities we need as we continually work toward better patient outcomes."

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