Libby Hospital First in State to Offer New MRI Technology

By Beacon Staff

Cabinet Peaks Medical Center in Libby is the first hospital in Montana to offer state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging technology, better known as an MRI, that provides detailed images of the tissue around joint replacements and implanted devices. The medical center, previously known as St. John’s Lutheran Hospital, began offering the new MRI when it opened its new 25-bed facility in Libby earlier this year.

According to Cabinet Peaks, it is one of just 123 hospitals nationwide and 250 worldwide to have the new MRI machine.

“It’s new and novel technology and GE Healthcare is the only one who has it right now,” said GE Healthcare product specialist Donnie Pennock. “It’s exciting.”

Pennock said in the past, MRIs, which use strong magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of the inside of a body, can be tripped up by metal implants, such as a hip replacement.

“Usually metal objects distort the image so you can’t see the area where the tissue meets the metal,” Pennock said.

The new MRI, known as MAVRIC SL, looks at the tissue around an implant from multiple angles and essentially makes a composite image of the area.

The technology is especially useful considering more than 1 million hip or knee replacements are performed every year in the United States. The need to repair or replace metal implants has also risen among younger adults. According to GE Healthcare, the medical industry expects the number of revision procedures will increase by 137 percent for hips and 601 percent for knees by 2030.

David Broderick, imaging manager at Cabinet Peaks, said another advantage to the new MRI is that it has a larger opening. Broderick said that is helpful when imaging larger patients or those who get claustrophobic. Because it is one of the larger MRIs in the state, hospitals from around the region have been recommending patients to go to Libby. In the past, the hospital would perform 50 MRIs a month, but this April it saw 90 patients, a new record.

“It was the first example of someone coming to us because they were unable to get an MRI done anywhere else in the state,” Broderick said.

Pennock said at one time an MRI bore was only 55 cm wide but over the last few decades the size has increased. The new machine has a 70 cm bore.

“It’s all about patient care and it’s going to become the new standard of care,” Pennock said.

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