Spokane Journal of Business

Inland Imaging using new MRI breast imaging table

Ergonomic features said designed to boost patient comfort, image quality

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Inland Imaging using new MRI breast imaging table
-—Staff photo by Chey Scott
Jennifer Brown, of Inland Imaging, says this new breast imaging table is designed to increase a patient's comfort during an exam, contributing to higher-quality images.

Inland Imaging LLC, the Inland Northwest's largest radiology practice, says it has bought and begun using a new high-tech table for breast imaging exams that it believes will help improve patient comfort during magnetic resonance imaging scans and will help produce higher-quality images.

"Image quality depends on a patient's ability to stay motionless during a scan," says Jennifer Brown, Inland Imaging's MRI services manager. "This new MRI system is designed to optimize a patient's comfort ... which means we can capture higher-quality images and complete the test in a shorter amount of time."

Inland Imaging received the new table, designated solely for breast MRIs, in late August and has since been using it at its clinic in the Sacred Heart Doctor's Building, at 105 W. Eighth, she says. She says the practice is averaging between four and six breast scans a day using the new table.

The table's advanced ergonomic design includes memory foam padding, positioning "wings," for patients to rest their arms at their sides, and a padded sternum rest. It can be adjusted to accommodate women's various body shapes and breast sizes, allowing for closer images of the breast, a critical factor in image quality and for detecting breast abnormalities.

Brown says the table cost about $150,000 and Inland Imaging doesn't have plans at this time to purchase any more for its other locations here because it is able to accommodate its current demand for breast MRIs with the new table it has.

Before Inland Imaging received the new table, a patient undergoing a breast scan was required to lie on her stomach with her arms outstretched over her head, which could be painful, Brown says. During the 30-minute scanning procedure, women often would feel pain in their shoulders from having their arms in that unnatural position, and in their breastbone from laying on the hard, uncomfortable surface of the table, she says.

With the new table, patients still lie on their stomach but now can leave their arms down next to their sides, Brown says. The table's padding also helps make the procedure more comfortable, she says. Additionally, the table's design allows radiologists to view a larger area of the breast, which can reveal lesions or abnormalities that otherwise might go undetected, she says.

Brown says the breast imaging table docks directly into the opening of the MRI machine and has a lower height than its old breast imaging tables which increases the amount of space between the patient and the inner wall of the machine to minimize feelings of claustrophobia.

Women who are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer should receive an MRI breast scan along with their yearly mammogram, Brown says.

"Mammography is the gold standard for breast screening," she says. "But if something is questionable, we will use other methods to solve the problem."

In addition to standard mammograms and breast MRIs, Inland Imaging offers positron emission mammography, stereotactic biopsies, and breast ultrasounds, Brown says. Positron emission mammography involves the injection of a radioactive isotope into the patient to distinguish cancerous tissue from healthy tissue, while stereotactic biopsies are done with the aid of an MRI machine to guide the radiologist's instruments to an abnormal growth in the breast, making the biopsy less invasive and more accurate.

Breast MRIs also are available at several of Inland Imaging's other Spokane offices, including the Spokane Valley Center and the Holy Family Center, but Brown says patients are encouraged to go to the Sacred Heart Center because of the increased comfort and better image quality that the new imaging table provides.

Inland Imaging has been based in Spokane since 1930 and provides imaging services throughout the western U.S. It has 58 radiologists, and six surgeons, and interprets over 600,000 exams per year.

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