By: Jean Johnson for Fibroids1
Magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) scanners are great diagnostic imaging systems – if you can stand the noise. “After my stroke the surgeon said he wanted an MRI before he worked on one of my clogged arteries,” said David Lowell of Parks, Arizona. “They took me down, but I didn’t last long. The noise was outrageous, and I made them stop and had them take me back to my room.”
When the surgeon found no MRI results in his patient’s chart, he confronted his wayward charge. But Lowell wouldn’t budge. “As far as I was concerned, I’d rather die from a second stroke than go back in that thing. I’m claustrophobic to begin with and then the noise. It was too much.”
“That’s when the doctor finally cut loose with some drugs. He told the nurses to give me something or other that made me so out of it I didn’t care what they did,” said Lowell. “I just wish he would have done it in the first place instead of putting me through that. I’m an easy-going person usually, but that noise was way too much for any human being to take.”
Indeed, researchers have compared the noise associated with an MRI to be that of sounds one might here standing directly under a jet liner on take-off. Indeed, MRI noise is so notorious that Toshiba engineers have come up with something they call Pianissimo – a new technology that is supposed to eliminate virtually all the noise associated with an MRI.
Noise aside, increasing numbers of interventional radiologists use MRIs to determine if their approach to embolizing uterine fibroids is appropriate for the patient. An MRI, a non-invasive procedure can be done on an out-patient basis and provides physicians images with sufficient clarity for accurate evaluation.
|Could you be at risk for fibroids? Risk factors include:|
Being African American – Women who are African American have three to five times the risk of having fibroids.
Being overweight – Women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for fibroids than women with a healthy weight.
Being childless – Women who have given birth have a slightly lower risk for fibroids.
“Using an MRI rather than an ultrasound is like listening to a digital CD rather than a record – the quality is better in every way,” said interventional radiologist author of a recent study on MRIs, Howard B. Chrisman, M.D., M.B.A., of Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago. “With an MRI we can clearly delineate the location of each fibroid, determine if it’s viable for treatment non-surgically, rule out misdiagnosis, identify which treatments are best suited for each patient, and avoid ineffective treatments.”
If that sounds like a mouthful, perhaps it’s because Chrisman just finished publishing the results of a study on MRIs in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology. Results in the November 2005 issue of the journal showed that MRI helped improve patient selection and screen out those who were not good candidates for non-surgical uterine fibroid embolization.
The study analyzed 100 women suffering from uterine fibroids, common benign growths in the uterus. After completing initial gynecologic and clinical exams, 94 of the patients underwent an MRI. Because the MRIs enabled interventional radiologists to identify fibroids lacking sufficient blood supply, problems associated with the size of the uterus size, and the presence of isolated adenomyosis and endometrial lesions, 21 patients were found to be inappropriate candidates for uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).
Women’s Health Intervention specialist and interventional radiologist at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Harjit Singh, M.D., has long used MRIs for diagnosis. “We do pelvic MRIs on all patients. This enables us to make sure fibroids are the source of the symptoms,” Singh explained. “Large ovarian cysts, among other things, can cause a lot of pelvic pain, so it’s important to make sure that there are not other causes for the patient’s symptoms.”
Chicago’s Chrisman concurs. “By working with a patient’s gynecologist, interventional radiologists can use MRIs to enhance the level of patient care through better diagnosis, better education, better treatment options and better outcomes,” he said. “For the women who come to us suffering from uterine fibroids and don’t want surgery or a hysterectomy, an MRI lets us see if she is a candidate for minimally invasive embolization – a procedure that would have her treated and at home the next day.”
If it’s all sounding too good to be true, check again. Technology like the MRI and UFE – even if all the acronyms are hard to keep track of sometimes – really is revolutionizing medicine not to mention providing fail safes to make sure the right woman gets the right treatment. So check it out ladies – just make sure to look for a imaging place that either has Toshiba’s Pianissimo sound damper or at least some noise-canceling earplugs.