KDMC upgrading MRI service

Published 6:00 pm Friday, August 26, 2011

The Mississippi State Department of Healthhas approved a request by King’s Daughters Medical Center toundergo a $1.4 million upgrade to its MRI equipment.

    “It’s as space age as anything out there,” said KDMC ChiefOperating Officer Phil Campbell, describing the Toshiba Titan, thenew MRI machine the hospital will purchase.

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    KDMC currently uses a mobile MRI housed in an 18-wheeler trailer.The Toshiba Titan will be a fixed MRI machine with more permanenthousing. A modular building will be added to the hospital grounds,bringing with it an expanded work area for MRI technicians.

    “From the inside, you won’t be able to tell you’ve left thehospital,” Campbell said of the modular unit.

    The capabilities of the new MRI equipment are uniquely suited toMississippi’s prevalent health problems.

    “It gives us a non-invasive way to look at the cardiovascularsystem. This is good in Mississippi because we have so much heartdisease,” Campbell said.

    Campbell explained that to get very detailed images of, for examplethe heart, the hospital must order a procedure in which dyes areinjected into the bloodstream. That procedure cannot be done onsite at KDMC.

    Once the new machine is in place, those detailed images can beproduced without the need for injections and without the need forKDMC patients to travel elsewhere.

    The Titan will also enable 3-D imaging, which the hospital cannotproduce with its current resources.

    “We will be able to see a level of detail far beyond what you cansee now,” Campbell said.

    In many cases, this level of detail will eliminate the need forexploratory surgery and other invasive procedures, like theinjection of dyes.

    Other upgrades the Titan will bring offer enhanced patientcomfort.

    “Claustrophobia will be a thing of the past,” said Kelly Smith,director of Radiology.

    The central tunnel, called a bore, of the current MRI machine canonly accommodate patients up to around 300 pounds.

    “I did get someone that was 350 pounds in it once, but it was verytight,” said Rusty Pannell, an MRI technician.

    The Titan’s bore is much more spacious, allowing patients up to 400pounds.

    “We will be able to put patients in the new machine that would havehad to go to Jackson,” Pannell said.

    The Titan’s bore is also shorter. At 2 feet long, it is half thesize of the current bore’s 4 feet.

    “We’ve had patients say, ‘I’m not getting in there. That’s likegetting in a casket.’ That should not be a problem anymore,” Smithsaid.

    She pointed out that for a patient 6 feet tall, only a smallportion of the body will ever be in the bore at once.

    The upgrade caps off a series of steady improvements to the MRIservices KDMC offers.

    The mobile unit presently in operation came to the hospital in2003. Prior to that, an MRI unit only visited the hospital oncertain days, but increased demand led the hospital to permanentlyhouse a mobile unit.

    KDMC projects the Titan will be in operation by the end ofOctober.

    The new equipment will equip KDMC to serve the community in waysthat many hospitals of its kind cannot.

    “Very few rural hospitals will be able to afford it, but we’rebiting the bullet and buying it,” Campbell said.  “This is the most state of the arttechnology available right now. There’s nothing better than thisanywhere in the country.”