An open MRI does not have the enclosed cylinder-like tube of the traditional MRI. FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital has the only true open MRI (pictured here) in the FirstHealth of the Carolinas service area.
PINEHURST – In August 2005, Red Springs residents Tommy and Patsy Freeman were involved in an automobile accident. In December of the same year, Tommy Freeman suffered a massive stroke believed to be related to blood clots resulting from the earlier crash.
Because his only symptom leading up to the stroke had been neck pain, Freeman wasted no time seeking medical help when he started having pain in his upper arm earlier this year.
“I went to the emergency room, and I was treated for a separated muscle,” he says, “but the pain kept getting worse. My wife called Dr. Solomon.”
Bruce S. Solomon, D.O., the neurologist who cared for Freeman after his stroke, recommended an MRI to rule out the possibility of another blood clot and to determine the cause of Freeman’s increasing pain. The test was scheduled to be conducted at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bones and other structures in the body. A traditional MRI scanner consists of a tube surrounded by a giant circular magnet, and the patient lies on a moveable table that is inserted directly into the tube for the procedure.
However, because of Freeman’s size and the painful location of his injury, MRI technologist Stevie Blythe had trouble positioning him for the scan. Although the procedure is not usually painful, larger patients, like Freeman, can be uncomfortable in the restricted space.
Understanding Freeman’s discomfort and acknowledging the distance he and his wife had traveled for the imaging study, Blythe suggested trying an open MRI. That meant relocating Freeman to the FirstHealth-owned Imaging Center at nearby Pinehurst Radiology.
“The exam could not effectively be performed in the hospital, so our tech opened up our clinic to ensure that Mr. Freeman received the best possible care,” says Lisa Nelsen, assistant director of MRI for Moore Regional Hospital. “Our clinic offers a true open MRI, the only one in our service area.”
According to radiologist William B. Hudgins, M.D., an open MRI differs from a traditional MRI in that the patient is not completely confined in a cylinder-like tube. “An open MRI is usually less stressful for larger patients, those with particularly painful or awkward injuries, or anyone who may be claustrophobic,” Dr. Hudgins says. “Open MRIs don’t have the narrow ‘tunnel’ that the patient must travel through. For most people, that substantially decreases anxiety and discomfort.”
Freeman laughingly compares trying to fit his body into an enclosed MRI tube with “trying to squeeze a bear into a quart jar.”
“The open MRI made a big difference,” he says. “Stevie went above and beyond to make me comfortable and to be sure that she was able to get an accurate image. She stayed after her shift to take care of me. It is exceptional to have someone with that kind of commitment caring for you.”
After the MRI revealed significant damage to his shoulder but no sign of blood clots, Freeman had a reverse shoulder replacement to repair the damage to his tendons, muscle and soft tissue.
“I can’t say enough about the care I have received,” he says. “From Stevie’s help with the MRI, to the surgery and the nursing care while I was in the hospital, it was all exceptional. Even though FirstHealth is nearly an hour away from home, it is the only choice for me.”
For more information on the imaging services offered by FirstHealth of the Carolinas, call (800) 213-3284.