With the delicacy of someone carrying a dozen eggs, workers unload Central Peninsula General Hospital's new $1.2 million MRI imaging magnet from a truck and ready it for delivery through the hospital roof Wednesday morning.
Photo by Phil Hermanek
Using the care of a shopper picking up a dozen eggs, workers from Toloff Construction in Nikiski employed a heavy duty boom crane to lift a million-dollar piece of medical imaging equipment from a delivery truck and lower it through the roof of Central Peninsula General Hospital on Wednesday.
Due to the size and weight of the new magnetic resonance imaging equipment, a portion of the hospital roof needed to be removed, to allow the machine to be lowered into place.
At a cost of $1.2 million, the new MRI garnered the undivided attention of workers on the ground and an expert crane operator who spent all of Wednesday morning and part of the afternoon plucking assorted computer and auxiliary control equipment from a flatbed truck behind the CPGH emergency entrance and lowering the equipment into its specially designed new home.
For several hours, technicians with Alaska Imaging Solutions pumped liquid helium into the new 1.5 Tesla closed-bore MRI to ensure the super-cooling ability of the machine.
Engineer Bryan Niver explained that the giant electromagnet inside needed to be cooled to absolute zero degrees on the Kelvin scale to establish its super conductivity when it is in operation. Absolute zero is minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit.
By doing that, the magnetic field becomes super conducting, meaning no current is lost, Niver said.
The magnetic field can then realign protons in something such as a human body to create an image doctors use to diagnose a patient's condition.
The images can be made on film or on computer disks.
The new MRI replaces the hospital's 1.0 Tesla MRI, which had become outdated by advances in technology, CPGH Chief Executive Officer David Gilbreath said earlier.
The Tesla reference is a unit of measure for the strength of the magnetic field. The fields in the MRIs are many thousand times stronger than the Earth's natural magnetic field, according to Niver.
Doug Wehrli, director of imaging for CPGH, said the new MRI will provide better images, enable breast imaging and allow some new cardiac imaging when that procedure is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Wehrli also said the biggest advantage of the new MRI is customer-patient satisfaction.
"The bore is shorter, so the claustrophobic feeling for the patient is lessened as they go in," he said.
The patient does not need to be moved as far into the newer MRI as in the older one. The length of the bore in the 1.5 Tesla MRI is about five feet. The diameter of the tube is the same.
A buyer was found for the older MRI and the hospital will receive a trade-in allowance for it. The new machine is expected to be fully operational by the first week of December, according to Gilbreath.
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