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Patients of The Queen’s Medical Center who need MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) can now immerse themselves in a virtual world during scans via CinemaVision, a special video and sound system that can play movies and music, or simply show what’s on TV. Purchased with funds raised from the 2009 Queen’s Employee Giving Campaign, the audiovisual system significantly helps claustrophobic patients and children endure MRI scans, for which they must remain still for a half to a full hour. The system features special earphones and goggles that a patient wears during an MRI scan. Conventional audiovisual systems cannot function within an MRI’s high magnetic fields, and their metal components interfere with MRI equipment.

Patients can bring in their own DVDs or music CDs, or watch any TV channel Queen’s receives by cable (all the channels available in patient rooms). A favorite movie on DVD can be brought in for children, or they can watch whatever happens to be on the Disney channel or Cartoon Network. Sleek and comfortable, the lightweight headset and goggles display the equivalent of a 62-inch video display viewed from five and a half feet.

Entertainment aside, the technology brings serious benefits to patients. An estimated 20 percent of patients react with fear or claustrophobia to confining, dark, and often noisy MRI procedures, and cannot be imaged as a result. “Patients who have had a hard time with MRI scans before say that it has helped a lot,” said Becky French, senior MRI technologist. “It helps pass the time faster, and the exam doesn’t seem as long.” The CinemaVision system is available for the 1.5 Tesla MRI; Queen’s 3 Tesla MRI has a short bore and an extra-wide opening that alleviates the fears of claustrophobics.

One of the fastest growing medical imaging technologies, MRI allows physicians to peer inside the human body and diagnose disease noninvasively, uncovering a broad range of conditions, including cancer, heart and vascular disease, and stroke, using radiofrequency waves and a strong magnetic field to produce clear, detailed pictures of internal organs and tissues. MRI is growing in importance as an alternative to x-ray mammography in the early diagnosis of breast cancer and is widely used to diagnose sports-related injuries, especially those to the joints and skeletal structure.

Photo caption:
May Navarro, MRI technologist, demonstrates CinemaVision.

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