The Women's Journal

Not All MRI Scanners Were Created Equal

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Dr_philip_Chao_best_open_mri_am11_sqBy: Dr. Philip Chao

3T MRI is imaging that uses the strongest magnet currently available.

The machines cost more money, but they are worth it.  They are twice as strong as standard closed MRI scanners and ten times stronger than traditional OPEN MRI scanners.  Over the past several years, a new kind of OPEN MRI has been developed (called “Open Bore” MRI).  It has more room for patients AND a magnet that is as strong as any 1.5T MRI scanner in the State.  Because we have both types of high quality MRI scanners, we can provide a high quality MRI scan for any patient.  The fact that we also have IV sedation available at no extra charge for patients who are extremely claustrophobic further expands the number of people able to receive quality imaging. 

Our 3T MRI scanner can see more clearly
and more quickly than any other scanner.

Clearer images.  Faster.  For brain imaging this is particularly important.  We see with greater clarity and generally find up to twice as many lesions as a 1.5T scanner.  3T is known to produce superior images and might actually cost less than an inferior 1.5T scanner (because the study will not need to be repeated).  Surprisingly, there are still some doctors who seem are unaware of the benefits of using good MRI scanners.  We have an increasing number of referrals from Johns Hopkins and University of Pennsylvania where the doctors insist on 3T quality.

ONLY 3T MRI was shown to be 100% sensitive to breast cancer
in a study supported by the American College of Radiology.

(For more info:  The strength of 3T also means studies take less time.  Minimal breast MR imaging times at 3T can be as little as 8 minutes after the localizing images.  3T is not only the most detailed, it is clearly the fastest exam as well.  For women who do not fit in traditional closed MRI’s, our OPEN BORE MRI produces excellent images.  Not quite as clear as 3T, but a good option for women need an alternative.  Most doctors are unaware that our scanner is the widest in the world.

3T MRI is also faster for studies of the chest, abdomen and pelvis.

We can get images in under a minute of scanning in all areas of your body which are very diagnostic (“diagnostic” means you can see best_open_mri_breastcancer_am11things clearly enough to make a diagnosis).  But we spend 20-30 minutes on your scan to let us see even more detail and use special imaging sequences such as diffusion weighted imaging which all the other providers do not perform because they wish to save time and money.  We prefer to provide the most complete study and charge the same or less than the other facilities.

(Images showes breast cancer growth in a BRCA patient over 1 year.  Surgical biopsy found the tumor to be benign.  Follow-up imaging was only done after the mass had grown significantly.)

3T MRI is good enough that it can
almost completely replace CT scans.

This is important as CT subjects patients to vast amounts of radiation.  Radiation has been linked to several forms of cancer.  There was a recent finding by the FDA that some scanners inexplicably deliver up to 20 times the ordinary dose of x-rays.  In these patients in California, the radiation dose was so high that the patients actually lost hair and might get early cataracts from a CTA (computerized axial tomography angiogram and perfusion study.)  Most people are unaware of the huge dose of radiation that each CT scan delivers.  Be aware.  Always ask if there is a different test available that will not expose you needlessly to radiation.

CONTRAST is an issue of growing concern.

Adding contrast to the MRI can change the diagnosis as much as 25% of the time.  Just this past week several abnormalities were ONLY seen after using contrast.  BUT, there are several different kinds of contrast approved for use with MRI.  And, not all contrasts were created equal.  Some have been linked to a rare, debilitating illness.  (  Sadly, the two contrasts that have never been linked to this disease (“NSF”) cost just a few dollars more per dose and there are some MRI Providers who do not stock it for this reason.  Ask your MRI Provider which contrast they use!

Lastly, I also want to mention we are happy to review your older studies.  If you have older images—please bring them so they can be compared at no charge of course.

MRI Consultants offers the best MRI technology in MRI in Delaware—

even our “open” MRI is an 18-channel 1.5T MRI scanner!  (Ask your MRI provider how many channels their closed magnet has).  Because of its extraordinary sensitivity to Breast Cancer, we prefer to do our Breast MRI’s on our 3T MRI, but for someone who either will not fit, or who is extremely claustrophobic, our 18-channel 1.5T OPEN BORE MRI is a good alternative.  Getting a bad MRI usually costs more than getting the very Best MRI possible … except for the time it will take you to repeat an inferior study.  Ask questions.  Get the best.

More information can be found at and, or give us a call at 302-838-7800.

Dr. Philip Chao graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University and was Scholar of the House. He continued his studies at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, receiving his medical degree in 1983. After a transitional internship year at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown NY, Dr. Chao did his residency in Radiology at Brooklyn’s SUNY Health Science Center (1984-1987), where he became Chief Resident. He stayed on to complete a fellowship in Neuroradiology (1987-1988). Dr. Chao has been interested in MRI technology since its very beginning – the first MRI scan took place in 1981 while he was pursuing his medical studies. The University of Pennsylvania, where Dr. Chao was both a Body MRI Fellow (1988-1990) and a Neuroradiology Fellow (1989-1990), was at the heart of the development of this technology and Dr. Chao was able to work with pioneers in MRI on the first GE Signa 1.5T (tesla) scanner. His advanced research and specializations complete, Dr. Chao left the University of Pennsylvania for a position as Director of MRI in Wilmington DE – a position he held for 14 years. Dr. Chao eventually left that position to create the best MRI center in Delaware, using the very latest technology: 3T MRI. While 3T (tesla) scanners have been used for scanning research patients since 2002, these advanced, more powerful MRI scanners only became available for clinical use in 2004. Dr. Chao worked hard to bring 3T technology to Delaware and in February 2007, MRI Consultants, LLC began operating the first 3T scanner in the State. 3T is the newest horizon for MRI.

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