New MRI improves patient experience at RiverBend

No one relishes the idea of undergoing an MRI scan.

But a new machine at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend may make the experience more pleasant for patients who are claustrophobic or obese while providing physicians with more information to facilitate treatment.

The Siemens 1.5T Wide-Bore Scanner was installed in October.

The new machine features a wider and shorter "bore," or opening, than traditional MRI machines, and accommodates patients of all sizes. "With a larger patient, it makes them extremely uncomfortable, claustrophobic, anxious to be placed in there without any room to move," said Shailesh Prasad, PeaceHealth Sacred Heart MRI lead. Now, patients having their spine or pelvis scanned can rest with their head and lower extremities outside the magnet.

The wider bore can help reduce sedation rates, fear and anxiety and provide sharper images due to less anxiety-related movement. And it makes MRI more available to patients with respiratory problems, pain and mobility issues. A stronger magnet means a faster exam time for patients and a more detailed image for physicians.​

The new equipment will help pediatric patients, too. Patients of all ages can pick out a color scheme, music and a movie to watch during the procedure.

"It's really nerve-racking and intimidating for a kid to come into an MRI scan," said Adam Mellott, PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Imaging Services Manager. The new machine can help make the process easier and more enjoyable for our youngest patients."