Newswise — MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Loyola University Health System now offers a powerful new MRI machine that can scan a leg or an arm without many of the usual inconveniences.
Most MRI machines are tubes that are 5- or 6-feet long. Patients lie inside for about 45 minutes. In the extremity MRI, the patient sits in a comfortable reclining chair and inserts his or her arm or leg into the machine.
The extremity MRI, available at the new Loyola Center for Health at Burr Ridge, will benefit patients who for various reasons cannot be scanned inside enclosed-tube MRIs.
For example, some patients experience mild to extreme feelings of claustrophobia inside MRI tubes. And patients with conditions such as back pain and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cannot lie flat on their backs.
"With this innovative scanner, we can accommodate extremity imaging for patients in a manner that is efficient, comfortable and effective," said Dr. Scott A. Mirowitz, chairman of the Department of Radiology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Tim Then of Hinsdale, who needed an MRI after he hurt his elbow doing chin-ups, could not be scanned in a conventional MRI machine because he could not position his arm correctly while lying inside the narrow tube. "It was anatomically impossible," he said. "When I assumed the correct position, it hurt after 5 seconds."
But Then said he had no trouble positioning his elbow correctly in Loyola's extremity MRI. "It's a godsend," he said.
Michael Mategrano of Chicago recently had an extremity MRI exam at Loyola's Burr Ridge center for a broken wrist. "It was a nice, comfortable chair," he said. "I went to sleep."
A patient needs to remain still while undergoing an MRI scan. But some children find it difficult or impossible to lie still inside conventional MRI machines and must be medicated. With the extremity MRI, however, a parent can sit next to the child. The parent can read to or distract the child so the child doesn't squirm.
Loyola's extremity MRI is from GE Healthcare and is named the ONI MSK Extreme®. The machine has a magnetic field strength of 1.5 Tesla, making it the most powerful extremity MRI in the Chicago area.
A few other extremity MRIs in the Chicago market have strengths of .25 or .35 Tesla. Loyola's machine, with its more powerful 1.5 Tesla magnet, provides a much clearer and more detailed image, said Dr. Laurie Lomasney, medical director of Musculoskeletal Imaging Radiology.
"For the right case, we no longer have to sacrifice patient comfort to get a high-quality test," Lomasney said. "We also can possibly accommodate physical disabilities."