Watch Movies during Your MRI at Hawaiian Medical Center

December 6, 2010, 2:03 PM HST · Updated December 6, 2:03 PM
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MRIs have become a common way for physicians to screen for and diagnose a number of potential diseases today. The procedure is often preferable to a series of traditional x-rays, because it provides detailed photos inside the body without exposing the patient to radiation. However, the narrow tube that is used to perform MRIs is anxiety-producing to many patients, particularly those who are claustrophobic. In fact, some individuals are unable to submit to an MRI because of these fears, leaving doctors grappling for another method of diagnosis.

New Addition at Kapi’olani

The Kapi’olani Medical Center at Pali Momi has attempted to make MRIs more comfortable to patients, by installing a virtual reality system that allows patients to watch movies and enjoy other modes of entertainment during their MRI. This system consists of a single pair of lightweight goggles and headphones that immerses the patient in the equivalent of a 62-inch video display. Headphones provide the sound system, and close out exterior noises, like the knocking that is common throughout an MRI procedure.

The new system is one of the few multi-media experiences that can be used inside an MRI. Because of the large magnetic system within the machine, traditional entertainment gadgets cannot work. The metal components in most of these gadgets also interfere with the imaging process. However, the simple goggles and headphones used with the CinemaVision Virtual Reality system allow patients to enter the MRI machine and remain still throughout the procedure, which can often last as long as 30 minutes.

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Patient Comfort Top Priority

Many patients who were afraid of MRIs in the past have been pleasantly surprised by how much easier the procedure was to bear with the assistance of the virtual reality system. Even patients that were unable to undergo the procedure because of claustrophobia have now had successful MRIs performed while watching their favorite flicks. The Kapi’olani Medical Center is pleased to install this small luxury, since the facility puts patient comfort at the forefront of patient care.

In addition to the benefits the patient enjoys with the virtual reality system, MRI technicians are seeing advantages to the system as well. Because patients are more relaxed going into the procedure, they are using less sedation to keep patients still. Images are also coming out more clearly because patients are at ease throughout the procedure. Clearer pictures from the MRI mean a more accurate diagnosis by the physician.

Currently, Kapi’olani is the only civilian medical center on the islands offering the virtual reality system to complement its MRIs. This center also hosts the oldest and most experienced MRI facility on Oahu. With comfort at the forefront, more patients are discovering that Kapi’olani is the place to go for MRIs and other medical procedures.

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