THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
A 5 1/2-ton MRI machine left MIC Magnetic Imaging Center yesterday the way it arrived -- hoisted through the roof by a crane. Fortunately, MIC Magnetic Imaging on Trindle Road in Silver Spring Twp. was built with a hatch in the roof. A huge, doughnut-shaped magnet makes MRI machines heavy. The magnet surrounds a tube that patients slide into for the MRI scan. Buildings that house the machines commonly have a hatch in the roof or a removable wall, said Tammi Ward, the manager at MIC. The 5-year-old MRI machine removed yesterday will be replaced with a machine that's twice as powerful -- and weighs twice as much. The new machine will provide more detailed images and produce them faster, said Tina Rampulla, the chief technologist at MIC. The old machine cost about $2 million; the new one will cost about $2.5 million, Ward said. The old machine will go back to the manufacturer for refurbishing and resale. MRIs are commonly used for scans of the head, spine and joints. They can detect problems that include tumors, bone infections and damage to ligaments and tendons. The new machine is expected to be in place in early October. It will take another month to get it ready for operation. MIC has two other MRI machines. At MIC, an MRI scan costs about $1,000. This includes reading the scan by a physician. Health insurers say overuse of MRI scans is a significant contributor to high health care costs and health insurance premiums. Rampulla points out that MRI scans have eliminated the need for some exploratory surgeries and biopsies, thus saving money. In addition, they don't expose patients to radiation, and reduce the need for injecting dies that can be harmful. At MIC, each MRI machine is used about 20 times a day, Ward said. Rampulla said MIC will be reimbursed at the same rate for use of the new machine as it was for the old equipment. The magnet in an MRI machine is strong enough to pull metal objects from several feet away. The machines are surrounded by a zone that must be kept clear of heavy metal objects. Rampulla said firefighters must be made aware of local MRI machines. A firefighter wearing an oxygen tank could get pulled to the machine. DAVID WENNER: 255-8172 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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