PUBLISHED: 9:04 PM on Wednesday, February 16, 2005
State-of-the-art MRI comes to Southeast
SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium announced last week that a new-generation magnetic resonance imaging device is now operating at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, SEARHC's regional hospital located in Sitka. This is the first MRI installed at a SEARHC facility.

"We are proud to bring this state-of-the-art diagnostic technology to Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital so we can continue to fulfill our mission to provide the highest quality healthcare services in partnership with Native people," said SEARHC president Ken Brewer.

MRI technology is used to identify abnormalities in the head, spine, chest, abdomen, pelvis and extremities, as well as to examine joints. Unlike other imaging technologies that rely on x-rays, MRI uses a powerful, doughnut-shaped magnet.

During an MRI exam, the patient lies inside the magnet's opening. As the computer reads signals from the atoms in the patient's body, it reconstructs the data into detailed images. Often this type of diagnostic information cannot be acquired with any other medical procedure except surgery.

In addition to performing state-of-the-art imaging in a fraction of the time in takes older MRIs, the new-generation of MRIs are quieter and more open, and thus less likely to cause patients to feel claustrophobic and anxious.

"When the patient is more at ease, we capture better images to help the physician make a confident diagnosis," said SEARHC radiologist Jerry Wright, M.D., Chief of Radiology Services. "As medical technology becomes more and more sophisticated, we are able to evaluate more medical conditions at earlier stages than ever before," Wright said. "With early diagnosis, we can more effectively plan for a successful treatment."

As SEARHC's regional hospital that serves patients from throughout Southeast Alaska, Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital delivers 52,500 primary-care provider visits each year.