News & Updates

Enhancing MRI Services at NMC

By: Sarah Parsons West,
for Northwestern Medical Center


Northwestern Medical Center is upgrading its Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) equipment this month, providing patients with the most efficient imaging services, through state-of-the-art technology.

The hospital anticipates the completion of the project, and utilization of the new equipment by the end of February or early March, with no disruption in services to patients.

“During the upgrade, our Diagnostic Imaging department will use a mobile MRI unit to ensure there is no interruption in MRI services,” says Erica Finnegan, Director of Diagnostic Imaging at NMC.

The temporary mobile MRI will be housed in a trailer in the NMC provider parking lot, at the end of the administration hallway. The hospital says it anticipates ten patients to daily utilize the mobile unit, accessing the trailer via a covered walkway.

Back inside the DI department, the older Canon Vantage Titan 1.5T MRI machine will be disassembled in preparation for its replacement.

“Our current equipment is almost 12 years old, a good point for an upgrade,” Finnegan says.

Through Canon Medical’s Vantage Orian Encore upgrade program, customers like NMC with a legacy system, are eligible to advance to the Vantage Orian platform, while keeping the machine’s powerful magnet in place.

“By keeping the magnet of the current unit and upgrading everything else that composes the MR unit, NMC can upgrade with less costs, reducing downtime,” says Finnegan.

“NMC invested in an expedited project timeline taking 22 days for the upgrade, rather than a normal six-to-eight-week timeframe,” she says.

The upgraded Vantage Orian Encore MRI unit will allow for a new level of productivity and patient comfort at NMC. With approximately 2,500 MRI’s being conducted annually, Finnegan says the upgrade will provide better image quality, improvements in efficiency, workflow, and access times.

“The NMC Diagnostic Imaging MRI team will be working with the Canon applications team to provide needed education and training on the brand-new unit for our staff.”

Canon, globally recognized as a leader in optical and imaging technology, formed Canon Medical Systems Corporation in 2016, after acquiring Toshiba Medical. The latter, in business for more than 100 years, pioneered medical technology with the world’s first X-ray machines in 1932 and Japan’s first MRI systems in 1983. Canon entered the healthcare business in 1940, with the development of Japan’s first indirect X-ray camera, used for the early detection of pulmonary tuberculosis.

NMC patients will benefit from such innovation, with quieter scanning noise and continued access to the larger 71-centimeter-wide bore (opening), which help to reduce anxiety and claustrophobia concerns.

“A new detachable table option allows for more efficiency for those patients who would normally have to be transported and moved onto an MRI safe stretcher, and then again transferred on to the MRI table,” Finnegan says.

She further highlights the importance that MRI scans serve in visualizing parts of the body, their use to diagnose disease or injury, as well as to plan medical, surgical or radiation treatments.

“An MRI scan can be utilized as an extremely accurate method of disease detection throughout the body and is most often used after the other testing fails to provide sufficient information to confirm a patient’s diagnosis,” she says.

“An MRI scan is good for defining brain anatomy, and in evaluating the integrity of the spinal cord after trauma. It is also used when considering problems associated with the vertebrae or intervertebral discs of the spine.”

Finnegan says that MRI’s provide valuable information on glands and organs within the abdomen, and accurate information about the structure of the joints, soft tissues, and bones of the body.

As director of the DI department, Finnegan is responsible for designing and implementing the hospital’s imaging business plan and strategy, procedures, equipment, and policies.

“We are gearing up to replace our Nuclear Medicine equipment this spring,” she offers, “and our Cat Scan Equipment in the fall.”

In addition to managing the day-to-day activities of the department, Finnegan is a certified magnetic resonance safety officer, as well as certified technologist in Radiologic, Cat Scan and MRI, respectively.

Serving at NMC since 2003, she understands the importance of providing patient-friendly service, and the value of collaboration.

“It takes a team,” she says, issuing a special thanks to those working diligently to make this important upgrade a success.

“Thank you to George Gattullo and the Facilities team, Project Manager John Lister, DI Supervisor Bridget Thompson, Dennis Boucher and the Info Syste