Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023

Open MRIs


New technology provides better images

Once a year, Amy Anderson feels a little uneasy.

The 51-year-old retired Bossier Parish school teacher has an MRI to ensure she’s all clear after having a brain tumor removed in 2020.

“I get really nervous,” Anderson said. “I wonder, ‘Oh, my gosh, what if my tumor is back?’ It took so much of my life. It’s always good news when I hear it’s not there anymore.”

But unlike in years past, Amy’s most recent MRI was done using new technology.

Christus Shreveport-Bossier Health System now has a 1.2 Tesla-strength Open MRI. In layman’s terms, this piece of equipment produces much sharper images than older MRIs.

“Most of the open MRIs have a much lower Tesla strength, so this is advanced technology,” said Mike Jones, Christus Shreveport-Bossier’s director of clinic operations. “It’s the latest imaging technology available in an open MRI.”

That’s news Anderson was happy to hear when she walked in for this year’s MRI.

“With better images, you can see if anything is happening sooner, rather than with images which are not so great,” Anderson said. “The more advanced (MRI’s) get, the better the images they get, and the better treatment you can get.”

However, treatment mainly depends on a radiologist’s interpretation of the MRI images.

“When you make a diagnostic plan and you decide to use some type of diagnostic modality such as a CAT scan or an MRI, obviously you want to have the clearest pictures you can have,” said Dr. Steen Trawick, Christus Shreveport-Bossier’s chief medical officer. “Having that clear image really helps the radiologist hone in on what the physician is asking for, or why they are doing the test, and allows a clear answer for what the next step should be, based on the test.”

Dr. Trawick said so far, feedback has been very positive.

“The radiologists are thrilled to be able to show me and say, ‘Look at the difference! See how much clearer this is?’ The radiologists are thrilled to be able to share the newer, crisper, cleaner images.”

Christus Shreveport-Bossier said their Tesla 1.2 is the first of its kind in Louisiana and the only one within a 100-mile radius of Shreveport-Bossier.

“There’s always that bit of pride which comes with being first in just about anything,” said Clint Wisdom, Christus Shreveport-Bossier’s chief operating officer. “I think it’s human nature to want to be the first. That’s just part of our drive for success and to excel. But it still goes back to how do we help our patients get resolution to their problems. I’m a COO, but I’m a 20-year nurse at the same time, so patient care is super important to me.”

Open MRIs are a welcome alternative for people who dislike being in closed spaces. Now, the patient doesn’t have to sacrifice comfort for quality.

“One of the things we would hear from our patients is, ‘I’m claustrophobic. I can’t go in that tunnel,’” Dr. Trawick said. “This alleviates all of that. It’s open. It’s wide. You don’t feel claustrophobic. You don’t feel confined. It provides great images for us.

It’s going to be a real gamechanger for patients in Shreveport-Bossier who need that extra space.”

That includes patients who are greater in size than others.

“We have a larger weight limit on our tables, so patients up to 600 pounds can have their exams done here with no problem,” Jones said.

“It’s imaging that some people – especially depending on a patient’s size – weren’t able to have,” Wisdom said. “We’re opening the door to a new group of patients who may have had difficult issues to diagnose in the past, and to those folks who had the issues with claustrophobia and were hesitant to move forward with treatment or a diagnosis with the physician.”

Christus Shreveport-Bossier’s new MRI is in an outpatient facility. That’s important to parents of a child who has to have an MRI.

“You’re not going into a hospital feeling so sterile and uncomfortable,” said Michelle Everson, a mother who works in outpatient imaging support for Christus Shreveport-Bossier.

“It’s a warmer environment to walk in, to tour it, to know they’re (children) getting the cognitive care they need with quality medicine, and you’re not having to compromise that for the comfort and the advantage of the child not being uncomfortable.”

As for Anderson, she says she was very comfortable lying in Christus Shreveport-Bossier’s new MRI. She’s even more relaxed after receiving the results.

“I haven’t had a re-growth, so I am doing well.”


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