Wheeling Hospital using new high-field, wide-bore MRI unit

WHEELING — Area residents who are claustrophobic, anxious or obese will find the new “open” MRI at Wheeling Hospital more spacious and comfortable.

The machine’s features include wide-open architecture and shorter depth that puts claustrophobic and anxious patients at ease; accommodating patients up to 500 pounds or those who are in pain or have mobility problems; higher-quality images than traditional open-sided MRI scanners; and appointments available seven days a week.

Jennifer Bond, director of radiology, said the new MRI provides the comfort of an open MRI without compromising magnet strength, allowing for an accurate diagnosis.

“Typically, the more space an open MRI provides, the weaker the magnet becomes,” Bond said. “So while open MRI is preferred by obese or claustrophobic patients, physicians are not always happy with the less-effective images.”

However, Wheeling Hospital’s new MRI provides up to four times greater signal-to-noise ratio compared with traditional open designs, which is beneficial when imaging larger patients.

“With the new open-bore MRI, patients are happy with the extra space, and physicians appreciate the high-field magnet,” said Dr. Mark Benson, chairman of radiology at Wheeling Hospital. “For patients who were leaving the Wheeling area for open MRI, this is a better alternative and closer to home.”

Diane Livengood, senior director of imaging services, added, “This scanner is not on a trailer, like at some other medical facilities. It is permanently located within our hospital. It supports our mission to provide the highest quality imaging to the communities we serve.”

Outpatient open-bore MRI testing also is available at the St. Clairsville Health Center on Tuesdays and Fridays. The center, located at 51339 National Road, is part of Belmont Community Hospital, a division of Wheeling Hospital.