State of the art 3T MRI coming to Edinburg Regional Medical Center


Edinburg Regional Hospital will be one of the first in the nation to offer the latest breakthrough in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology by early next year.

With the announcement of Medtronic’s brand new SureScan MRI system, patients with implanted neurostimulation equipment for the treatment of chronic pain will now be able to safely undergo a full-body MRI if needed.

Neurostimulation treatment has become a mainstay of chronic pain management.  While MRI is a standard of care in the diagnosis and treatment of major health conditions like cancer, stroke, and neurological problems, patients with neurostimulation systems were previously denied an MRI scan due to safety concerns involving the large magnetic fields and radio frequency (RF) energy involved in MRI.MRIGraphic2

“The technology for these neurostimulators has been around for a long time, but they have never been MRI safe,” said Edinburg Regional Chief Operating Officer Jason Chang.  “The amazing thing is that almost all the patients who have these neurostimulators for pain usually have some structural issue.  Whether they have had osteoporosis or a surgery in the past or whatever, usually the best way to detect the problems is through MRI.”

“The fact that these haven’t been MRI compatible in the past is pretty amazing,” Chang said.

Edinburg Regional has made a $3 million investment to install 3T MRI possibly by February 2014.

“The intent is to bring in new technology, be cutting edge, and to change the perception of the hospital,” Chang said.  “We are very high-tech and very high-touch.  3T MRI is the standard.  It’s the strongest you can get with the most clarity.  That’s worldwide.”

Dr. Tim Chowdhury at Center for Pain Management in Edinburg is among the first U.S. surgeons to implant a patient with RestoreSensor SureScan MRI with Vectris SureScan MRI percutaneous leads.

These leads essentially refer to the electrical wires implanted in patients for the treatment of pain and are one of four Medtronic neurostimulation systems that recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for body MRI scans under specific conditions of use.

“The new Spinal Column Stimulator (SCS) leads and Internal Pulse Generator (IPG) battery is compatible to the MRI.  Before the SureScan, patients who had the SCS implanted were not able to have an MRI,” Dr. Chowdhury said.  “This way, new spinal column stimulator will not preclude any further diagnostic MRI study for those implanted with SCS.”

MRIGraphic3Other systems enhanced with this technology using the Vectris SureScan MRI percutaneous leads are: PrimeAdvanced SureScan MRI, RestoreAdvanced SureScan MRI, and RestoreUltra SureScan MRI.

MRI scans allow physicians to make a wide range of health diagnoses by viewing highly detailed images of internal organs, blood vessels, muscle, joints, tumors, areas of infection, and more.  MRI utilizes strong magnetic fields and radio frequency pulses to create images of structures inside the body.  While CT scans are used for imaging hard materials in the body, like bones, MRI scans are used to image soft tissue.

As advancements in technology have increased accuracy, effectiveness, and patient comfort, MRI use has increased dramatically in recent years.  It is estimated that 60 million MRI procedures are performed worldwide each year.

In the United States, the number of scans has nearly doubled in the past decade, with 32 million scans – more than one MRI per second – performed in 2011.

Medtronic neurostimulation therapy for chronic pain uses a medical device placed under a patient’s skin to deliver mild electrical impulses to the spinal cord, which block pain signals from reaching the brain.  Medtronic’s neurostimulation systems with SureScan MRI technology and Vectris SureScan MRI percutaneous leads are specially designed to reduce or eliminate the hazards produced by the MRI environment.  The devices also include a proprietary SureScan feature, which sets the device into an appropriate mode for the MRI environment.