Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series of blog posts describing how the construction of Cincinnati Children’s new Critical Care Building will affect the MRI services in the Radiology Department. The previous post described why the construction may impact our MRI services. Today’s post describes how we are using physics and new technology to monitor for changes in image quality of our MRI scanners. Upcoming posts will describe what we will be doing to ensure that your child continues to receive the highest quality MRI study. The remainder of the posts will describe our new imaging locations and the new services we will be offering. Stay tuned!
We are excited for the start of construction of Cincinnati Children’s new Critical Care Building. When complete, the new building will give us even more space to provide the highest quality care to the sickest children in Cincinnati and the region. However, in the short term, the construction poses a challenge to the Radiology Department. Namely, the vibrations caused by construction and the movement of steel beams near the building may affect our ability to obtain high-quality images on our current MRI scanners. As described in the previous blog post, either or both of these effects may prevent us from using five of our MRI machines during certain phases of the construction.
We take this disruption very seriously and have been working hard over the past year to prepare for the construction and the impact that it may have on your child’s care. In order to better understand the effects that construction would have on the five MRI scanners nearest the construction site, we worked with the construction company to conduct vibration tests on the building. In early spring of this year, the construction company drilled directly into the hospital walls while we used sensitive tools to measure the amount of vibration experienced throughout the hospital. Additionally, our MRI physicists developed an extremely sensitive MRI imaging technique to evaluate the effects of very small vibrations on MRI image quality.
Now that construction is ramping up, we have launched a daily testing procedure. Each day, before the first patient arrives, each scanner is tested. Once the test scan is complete, the test images are uploaded to a computer that automatically performs a detailed evaluation of the image quality. The software that helps to perform this image quality test was developed in our department just for this purpose. If the computer determines that the image quality has suffered as a result of the construction, it will automatically send a message to the leaders in the department. By using this software, we are able to quickly test each of our MRI scanners each day.
Once the majority of digging and drilling is complete, the construction company will begin raising the steel beams of the new Critical Care Building. At that time, we will perform a different series of tests to assess the quality of our images. Finally, once the Critical Care Building’s steel beams are fully attached to the original hospital’s exterior wall, we will retune our MRI magnets so that they are able to perform at the high level we expect without the need for such exhaustive testing.
Contributed by Dr. Jean Tkach and edited by Tony Dandino, (SPEC-MR QUALITY).