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Posted: December 20, 2013 4:40 p.m.

New, bigger MRI machine open at NMC

photo by Darrell Everidge/

A Philips Ingenia 1.5 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging machine, which can perform high-quality MRI scans more comfortably, is open at Newton Medical Center.

The Newton Medical Center has opened its new, state-of-the art MRI equipment to patients.

NMC hospital staff and members of the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce celebrated the expansion of Diagnostic Imaging Services with a ribbon-cutting at the hospital Wednesday evening.

Those attending viewed the brand-new Philips Ingenia 1.5 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine though a window during the ceremony. The new machine is designed to quickly perform high-quality MRI scans with a high level of patient comfort.

A construction crane delivered the $1 million MRI apparatus through a hatch in the roof at the hospital in early December. According to hospital officials, the new machine will offer a broader range of diagnostic imaging and will be faster and less constricting for patients. It also will allow inpatients to receive MRIs in the hospital, instead of being transported by ambulance to the hospital’s MRI center across the street.

Lisa McWilliams, director of Diagnostic Imaging Services, explained that the new equipment is a part of an expansion of the department, and was needed due to the volume of patients who need MRIs.

“We’ll be able to do twice as many MRIs a day,’’ McWilliams said Wednesday.

In addition, Pamela G. Brown, manager of the Imaging Center, said the new machine will be beneficial in accommodating patients who may be over the weight limit of its other MRI machine, which was added at the hospital in August 2004.

“The weight limit is much higher.

“Before, it was 350 pounds, but now we’ll be able to go up to 550 pounds,” Brown said. … “With the obesity epidemic in the U.S., we’re able to do more obese patients, and this magnet has a wider opening.”

McWilliams added that the machine will also be more comfortable for some patients who are claustrophobic.

“With the magnet being bigger, some people who couldn’t do the MRI with the circle being so small. … just having that extra width, it feels more open,” McWilliams said.

Dr. Robert Roche, who specializes in radiology, said the detail that the new machine shows is “remarkable.”

“It’s extremely helpful in diagnosis. What the MRI machine can see is it can see tissue differences that the other ways of looking at the body cannot see,” Roche said.

“The images that it shows are absolutely superb. You can see images of all the muscles and tendons and ligaments and blood vessels and parts of the brain and everything.

“I mean it’s just a lovely machine.”

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