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  • Avera McKennan - A Regional Leader in MRI Testing

Published on June 30, 2009

Avera McKennan - A Regional Leader in MRI Testing

SIOUX FALLS (June 30, 2009) MRI - magnetic resonance imaging - is a powerful tool that harnesses magnetic energy to capture detailed 2- and 3-D images of parts, or the whole, of the human body.

Since the 1980s, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center has been a leader in offering the latest MRI technology, beginning with a mobile unit in 1987 and fixed MRI in 1992. In the spring of 2006, Avera McKennan opened a state-of-the-art imaging center, including the first 3 Tesla MRI system in the state of South Dakota and region, 1.5 Tesla MRI and .7 Tesla superconductive open MRI. The .7 Tesla open MRI is one of the most advanced open systems available, with the highest field strength for open MRI of any hospital in South Dakota.

"The 3.0 Tesla MRI unit has a magnetic strength that's 60,000 times greater than the Earth's gravitational pull," said Keith Miller, director of Imaging Services at Avera McKennan. The detailed images it provides are especially applicable for studies of the brain and neurological system, breast imaging and orthopedics. The 1.5 Tesla MRI is a powerful overall imaging tool.

The .7 Tesla superconductive open MRI is the next best option for people who are claustrophobic, for children or for people with a large body size, Miller said. "Avera McKennan Imaging Center is home to the state and region's only .7 Tesla superconductive open MRI," Miller said. "The strength of the magnet, coupled with superconductivity, produces the most detailed images available in an open MRI unit."

Patients today have a choice of several MRI options. Miller says patients should consider three things when selecting an imaging provider: the power of the MRI magnet, comfort and value.

 "Magnets that are .25, .3 or .6 without superconductivity will not provide the detailed images that are often needed to confirm a diagnosis," Miller said. "It's not unusual for patients who have had these tests to have to undergo a second test in a stronger MRI unit." Superconductivity means the unit is cooled to absolute zero, delivering a highly uniform magnetic field for the best possible images from an open unit. The patient does not notice this cooling, and stays comfortably warm throughout the procedure. Within the Sioux Falls region, open MRI with superconductivity is only available at the Avera McKennan Imaging Center.

Along with imaging power, comfort is another important consideration. Some open MRI units are designed so that patients can sit or stand. Yet MRI tests require a patient to remain absolutely still for 30 minutes to an hour - something that can be uncomfortable and difficult to do while sitting or standing. Patient comfort and getting the best quality image are key reasons why MRI equipment used at Avera McKennan is designed for a patient to lie down. "Motion is enemy number 1 in imaging tests. If you move, even slightly, the signal coming back from the body structures can become blurred and result in poor images," Miller said.

Patients should also look into the value they are getting with MRI tests. "At Avera McKennan Imaging Center, we strive to offer high quality imaging at a good value," Miller said. Opting for a lesser-strength magnet for the first test might result in the expense of a second test, Miller added.

Similar to a clinic setting, the Avera McKennan Imaging Center is easily accessible in Avera Doctors Plaza 2. Valet parking is available. "We offer the latest technology in a comfortable, non-hospital environment," Miller said. The Avera McKennan Imaging Center offers an array of tests, including VCT 64-slice CT scanning, digital mammography, DEXA scanning for bone density, 3-D and 4-D ultrasound and more. "Our center is designed to offer the best in imaging services, right here at home," Miller said. "When your doctor recommends diagnostic imaging, 'look no further' than Avera."