TRURO - The main component for the province's first wide-bore magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit entered the new Colchester East Hants Health Centre yesterday.
Weighing in at 12,200 pounds, the magnet, which was shipped from North Carolina, was unloaded off a flatbed truck in the morning and during the next three hours moved inch by inch to its final destination in the hospital.
"The crews had to move it very carefully," said Krista Wood, director of public relations for the Colchester East Hants Health Authority.
The $5.2.-million MRI will undergo some testing and is expected to be fully operational in time for the hospital's first day of operation on Nov. 26.
"There are two big benefits of having a wide-bore MRI," explained Wood. "With a wider opening we can scan larger patients so we can use the MRI on someone that weighs 500 pounds."
The magnet's larger opening could also make the process more comfortable for patients.
"An MRI is not a test that happens quickly," she said. "Our technologist said it can take 20 minutes to an hour-and-a-half, so it can be claustrophobic for some people. It can be quite uncomfortable."
In addition, the MRI can look into some parts of the body in much more detail.
Over the next couple of weeks a number of add-ons will be installed around the magnet. Copper sheeting will also be installed in the room housing the machine in order to block out radio frequencies that could create noise and affect the quality of the images the MRI creates.
"The goal by the end of October is to have our technologists in to calibrate and do some testing," said Wood. "We'll have some mock patients so we can do some test images."
The province contributed $3.9 million to the MRI with Colchester Regional Hospital Foundation helping to raise the additional $1.3 million through community support. The cost included the design and construction of the suite for the MRI, as well as the purchase and installation.
About MRIs in general:
- MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging unit, allows radiologists to look at the soft tissue of one's body
- It doesn't expose the patient to radiation
- It uses a large magnet to line up a patient's hydrogen atoms in their body and radio frequency waves to knock them out of alignment
- Coils in the MRI detect tiny energy signals that hydrogen atoms give off as they move back to their natural alignment: this is transmitted to a computer to generate an image
- Can be used to detect issues with ligaments and tendons, as well as trauma in the head