Castle Medical Center’s Imaging Services Department now has a permanent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system to serve Windward O‘ahu physicians and their patients.
Until recently, “a mobile MRI unit visited Castle twice a week, but it simply couldn’t accommodate the growing number of patients needing the service,” explained Brian Matsusaka, director of Imaging Services at Castle Medical Center. “With our own MRI unit now in place, our patients won’t have to travel over the Pali for an MRI scan; our services are available around the clock, if needed. This is a tremendous benefit to the community.”
The growing demand for MRI services is due in large part to the increasing versatility of the equipment and high-resolution images that allow physicians to pinpoint brain lesions, detect circulatory problems, and identify other problems in the body. Invented by Raymond Damadian, the first MRI equipment was put into use in the 1980s, revolutionizing the field of diagnostic medicine.
“Today, MRI scans have become an integral part of medicine,” notes Dr. Chuong Nguyen, a radiologist at Castle Medical Center. “In fact, MRI technology has advanced so far that it has become a standard diagnostic tool,” he says, adding that MRI often complements the more familiar CAT scans.
Unlike the CAT scan, which uses X-rays to identify tissue density, magnetic resonance imaging uses magnetism and radio waves to “scan” the water content of tissue in a particular part of the body, then produces clear, 3-D pictures of the area. Tissues and organs have distinct water contents that can be changed by diseases. These changes are detected by MRI, helping physicians with early diagnosis of a variety of neurological (brain and nervous system) disorders, musculoskeletal problems, and cancer and organ disease.
The equipment also is used for a procedure called a magnetic resonance angiogram, or MRA. By producing “live” images of blood flowing in veins and arteries, cardiovascular disease can be detected painlessly—and much more quickly than with a conventional angiogram, a procedure that requires inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in the groin and a four- to six-hour recovery period.
“Patients often do not want to go through an invasive diagnostic procedure like an angiogram, so they put off getting it done,” Brian Matsusaka says. “With the availability of our MRA services—a procedure that takes thirty to forty-five minutes from start to finish—we hope patients will be more willing to come in for early diagnoses.”
Castle’s new MRI system offers patients another advantage: It is the most compact whole-body imaging unit currently available in the industry. New magnet technology makes it possible to get high-quality images, despite a shorter magnet length.
Those who have seen an MRI machine are familiar with its large cubical shape and the long horizontal tube, or bore, in which the patient is scanned. Castle’s state-of-the-art system has a short bore tube that provides a much more patient-friendly environment, especially for those who may experience claustrophobia.
“At Castle, our goal is not only to keep pace with changing technology in the radiology field, but also to provide services in a way that is assuring to our patients,” Matsusaka concludes. “I can always depend on our warm and friendly staff to deliver that kind of care.”
For more information, please call Imaging Services at (808) 263‑5166.