Health Care and Technology

Spectrum Health unplugs 'rock-concert' noise of MRI exams

October 1, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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Spectrum Health unplugs 'rock-concert' noise of MRI exams
Spectrum Health uses technology by GE Healthcare to keep noise from MRI scanners to ambient levels. Photo via youtube.com

Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids is the world’s first hospital to dramatically reduce the decibel level of MRI exams with a new technology from GE Healthcare.

Rock-concert noise

Waukesha, Wis.-based GE Healthcare said its Silent Scan technology addresses the excessive noise generated during an MRI scan, which can exceed 110 decibels, or rock-concert levels, and require ear protection.

Noise is one of the major complaints from patients who undergo an MRI, according to GE.

Historically, medical manufacturers have addressed the noise issue by using a combination of acoustic-dampening material or performance degradation to reduce the noise level.

Ambient noise

GE’s Silent Scan reduces MRI noise to an ambient or background-sound level, to improve a patient’s MRI experience.

With Silent Scan, in combination with proprietary high-fidelity gradient and RF system electronics, noise is not merely dampened; it is virtually eliminated at the source, according to GE.

Spectrum feedback

GE Healthcare has been obtaining user feedback on Silent Scan from several customers in the U.S., including Spectrum Health — where it said Dr. Mark DeLano was the first to implement the technology in the world, as part of a research collaboration with GE Healthcare.

DeLano said the response from MRI patients “has been very gratifying.”

“They tell us that the Silent Scans are essentially silent compared to conventional MRI scans,” DeLano said. “This reduces their anxiety about the procedure. We are particularly looking forward to providing this to our pediatric patients, claustrophobic patients and our patients being scanned in the operating room, where the noise of the traditional MRI can be disruptive.

“Better communication is better medicine,” added DeLano.

Silent Scan makes it easier for a parent to comfort a child in the scanner or staff to administer the exam.

Silent Scan is available on GE’s 1.5T and 3.0T systems for routine head examinations.

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