LGMC operating new MRI machine


The radiologists at Lafayette General Medical Center (LGMC) are rather radiant these days. LGMC installed a new, advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner in its Radiology Department, and began using it this week. It is one of the most advanced machines of its kind in use in the region.

This MRI scanner, the Discovery MR750W manufactured by General Electric, is outfitted specifically for neurology patients, enhancing the hospital’s accreditation as a Neuroscience Center of Excellence. The scanner can perform functional MRI (fMRI) and MR Spectroscopy of the brain, in addition to the other functions that regular MRI machines do.

Functional MRI measures brain activity and maps the brain prior to surgery. Such information can allow a neurosurgeon, operating on a brain tumor for instance, to preplan access and minimize impact to intricate nerves and tissues.

MR Spectroscopy can analyze metabolic changes of cells within the brain. This can help an oncologist detect the chemical signatures of cancer. "LGMC is now the only facility in Acadiana capable of doing these exams,” says Lance Rouse, Director of Radiology at LGMC.

An fMRI checks brain structure and function using a strong magnetic field to take real-time images of brain activity. While being scanned, a patient is asked to perform simple tasks such as reading, speaking or moving a body part. This illuminates the areas of the brain where different functions are located, such as language, visual and motor capabilities. With that insight, physicians can better treat patients suffering such complex disorders such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, brain masses or blood vessel malformations that may need surgery.

"The new MRI scanner brings forth state-of-the-art imaging technology to our region,” says Rouse. "It has enhanced patient comfort as well as superior image quality, and was customized with the health needs of Acadiana in mind.”

Patients can be inserted into the scanner either head first or feet first, depending on the location of the area needing inspection. Unlike most scanners, the gurney is detached from the machine, allowing the patient to be more easily transported to and from the machine. Improved acoustics allow the Radiology staff to use specialized earpieces to receive communications from outside the room.

The MRI scanner arrived at the hospital in August. Installing it required knocking out a wall and remodeling a new room to house it. The scanner had to sit for several days to fully acclimate to the hospital’s climate-controlled environment before it could be turned on for the first time. Its first patient was officially treated Sept. 23.

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