A Whangarei radiology business is installing a second MRI machine to cope with increasing demand for magnetic resonance imaging in Northland.

The Siemens 1.5T magnet arrived at TRG Imaging in Kensington on June 16.

The Siemens 1.5T magnet going in through a hole in the wall at TRG Imaging in Kensington.
The Siemens 1.5T magnet going in through a hole in the wall at TRG Imaging in Kensington.

Last December TRG undertook internal renovations at its clinic in Kensington Ave to make space for a new state-of-the-art $2.3 million 3T MRI machine.

This scanner had the most advanced MRI technology available in New Zealand, and the quality and efficiency of the imaging was cutting edge, said Sharee Fawlk, TRG Imaging's service manager.

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"The standard for MRI in a clinical setting is a 1.5T MRI machine. The image quality of an MRI depends on signal and field strength, and a 3T machine has significantly more signal than a 1.5T machine," Ms Fawlk said.

"The different strengths provide a range of benefits specific to each magnet. The 1.5 is ideal for abdomen and chest MRIs, with the 3T used for imaging small bones, breast MRI, musculoskeletal MRI, neurological MRI and vascular MRI."

The two machines will sit side by side in a purpose-built room with a combined control area for technicians.

Seimens engineers were on site for a couple of weeks recommissioning the 1.5T machine, which cost about $2m and had been in storage in Auckland after coming out of another TRG site that had moved to new premises and installed a 3T MRI machine.

Ms Fawlk said the arrival of the 1.5T magnet this month allowed the business to extend its range of services.

She was reluctant to disclose the number of scans the combined machines would generate for competitive reasons, but was able to say shifts were currently running Monday to Sunday to meet demand using just the 3T MRI machine.

A Siemens 1.5T MRI machine in operation with a patient.
A Siemens 1.5T MRI machine in operation with a patient.

"TRG Imaging Whangarei is very excited to offer scanning on the 1.5T and 3T magnets and looks forward to having the service fully operational by the middle of July."

■ Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body in both health and disease. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields, radio waves, and field gradients to generate images of the organs in the body.

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