New MRA brings the latest technology to Carson-Tahoe Hospital

Radiologist Dr. Gregg McAninch has nothing but praise for Carson-Tahoe Hospital's newly acquired magnetic resonance angiography machine

"This method has the ability to revolutionize what we are able to do," McAninch said, noting some of the advantages are speed, versatility, and patient comfort.

The $2 million machine was put in place in early June and is busy 12 hours a day, five days a week. Service will be expanded once more technicians are trained.

Our bodies are made up of 95 percent hydrogen atoms which at any given time are spinning around at random. When subjected to the force of a strong magnetic field, 15,000 times the force of gravity, they line up and spin in the same direction. Radio waves are passed through the body, and the hydrogen gives off a signal. That signal together with the aid of computer technology becomes a picture, or more accurately, dozens of pictures.

Everything from the size of tumors to constriction of arteries can be monitored and measured. Images saved over time can determine if a tumor has shrunk or expanded and the information used to determine if a patient is responding to therapy. Other technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging, have that capability but this method is much less invasive.

And while the magnetic field commonly aligns hydrogen, the frequency used determines which element is detected. The ability to examine chemicals is leading edge technology that could lead to less invasive procedures in many patients.

The presence of a substance called choline can be determined on a different frequency and indicates the active metabolism found in cancerous tumors. An increase in lactic acid can be an indication of a stroke. The list of advantages goes on.

Determining the exact location of traumatic aneurysms can be critical to the surgeon and with MRA they can be pinpointed without moving the patient because the image can be moved on a monitor.

The machine can also define the status of stroke victims, which ultimately can determine the mode of treatment.

The machine is a joint venture between Carson-Tahoe Hospital and Tahoe-Carson Radiology.


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