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Magnetic Resonance Imaging Evolving at GE, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

© Dave Lauridsen 2012


A few months ago, we brought you a story about making imaging machines, like CT scanners, more child-friendly.  The issue was that the devices were so intimidating to children that it was affecting the ability of technicians to get good results.

The solution was to incorporate the machines into imaginitive scenes, like a campground or a submarine, to disguise them.

But it turns out that it’s not just children who are intimidated.  Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs) don’t necessarily look scary to adult patients, but they do make a scary sound.

“It uses a lot of technology,” says Richard Hausmann, President and CEO of the Magnetic Resonance division of GE Healthcare. “And one of those technologies actually is introducing some kind of vibrations into the system and vibrations, as we know from the loud speaker, are generating noise. And this can be pretty loud, like a jackhammer, actually.”

And that was causing problems for a significant number of patients.  One leading MRI manufacturer, Waukesha-based GE Healthcare, has now developed, basically, a less-noisy MRI machine.

New locally-developed magnetic resonance imaging technology offers patients a better experience. MRI machines require vibration in order to function, which has historically created a noisy experience for patients.

GE Healthcare has developed a new Silent Scan MRI technology that is considered silent in comparison to conventional models, and you will not have to wait years for the technology to arrive. Wheaton Franciscan is already offering the service in Milwaukee.

The silent MRI machine was developed at GE Healthcare in Waukesha."We completely avoid the noise from the source by switching the gradients in a different form, but still having the usual performance of an MRI scan," said Hausmann.

Magnetic resonance imaging has been used for over 30 years. MRI machines are beneficial because they are both non-invasive and non-radiative, but traditionally machines have been hampered by things such as restrictive bore sizes, low weight limits, and excessive noise comparative in decibel count comparable to a jackhammer.  With MRI being more popular than ever before, patients comfort is becoming increasingly important along with innovation. Bore sizes have increased, weight limitations have been lifted, and now noise is being eliminated.

"The one's who appreciate the lack of noise are the one's who have been there in the past and have come out of the scan room and have asked 'Am I done,'" said Robert Weisbecker, Wheaton Franciscan’s director of radiology.

Click here to learn more about GE’s Silent Scan technology.