Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - It’s over 15,000 pounds and costs millions of dollars, so even though a huge crane and over a dozen workmen moved the new GE 3T magnet for the new MRI Scanner through a hole in the wall at Advanced Imaging, kid gloves and careful hands guided the massive device carefully into place on Wednesday afternoon.

Dr. Casey Schmitz, Advanced Imaging's Medical Director and a Neuroradiologist described the new technology, only the second of its kind in the United States.

The New MRI Imaging System is only the Second of its Kind in the U.S.

“At Advanced Imaging, we're replacing one of our older legacy 1.5 Tesla, or ‘normal’ MRI scanners with a brand new state-of-the-art 3 Tesla MRI scanner, which just means a stronger magnetic field strength,” began Dr. Schmitz. “This MRI scanner is going to be capable of doing a lot more than the standard MRI scanner and opens up new techniques and imaging of new diseases that we couldn't do with the standard MRI scanner.”

Dr. Schmitz said the old unit actually required a new hole in the wall for removal.

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The New Magnet was so Big that a new Hole in the Wall was Necessary

“We had our old scanner in the Northern Rockies Orthopaedic building that we had to tear down the wall and pull out the old MRI scanner,” he said. “The new scanner is I think 15,000 or 16,000 pounds, so we have a large crane here that we are using to put the new scanner into the building through the hole in the wall that we made when we took out the old scanner.”

Dr. Schmitz said the new technology will open up new possibilities for diagnosis and treatment of many conditions and diseases.

Advanced Imaging says the New Technology will be a 'Game Changer' in Missoula

“This opens up imaging possibilities for a lot of things that you can't really do with standard MRI,” he said. “There are certain types of cancers that imaging with a three Tesla MRI is just much better. In addition to that, when we're talking about MRI of the brain and the vasculature there are things where the additional magnetic field strength gives us higher quality and higher resolution images.”

Dr. Schmitz did not directly answer the question about how much the new technology cost but said it was in the millions of dollars.

“It is in the millions,” he said. “We feel that it's really important to be able to offer this to all of our patients and as I said, it is a game changer with certain types of MRI exams that you really should do it with a 3T magnet.”

Dr. Schmitz said the new 3Tesla MRI scanner will be ready for patients by mid-November.

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