State-of-the-Art Imaging Capabilities at WellSpan York Hospital & WellSpan Health and Surgery Center in Hanover

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Advanced technology at two WellSpan facilities in South Central Pennsylvania provides diagnostic and treatment support to clinicians and patients in the region for multiple medical specialties.

The imaging suites at both WellSpan York Hospital and WellSpan Health and Surgery Center in Hanover use the Philips Ingenia Elition 3.0T for MRI studies. These units feature a spacious, open scanning tunnel and reduced noise factor, along with utilizing artificial intelligence to produce higher resolution images.

WellSpan York Hospital, a community teaching facility that embraces a patient-centric environment, recently introduced a new MRI suite with two sophisticated MRI systems, constructed with clinical and patient requirements in mind. The dedicated MRI space represents a $14 million investment in imaging at WellSpan York Hospital, a regional, advanced specialty-care leader. In addition, the facility recently upgraded from single photon emission CT to PET/CT.

“On behalf of Imaging Services at WellSpan York Hospital, we are excited to offer the newest technology in MRI and cardiac PET/CT imaging to our patients,” says Elyce Wolfgang, Director of Imaging at WellSpan York Hospital. “The advanced technology — coupled with our highly skilled team of technologists, nurses, radiologists and cardiologists — creates a calm and reassuring environment for our patients to receive their care.”

“We know we have some of the most highly skilled physicians and clinicians in our region. It’s only fitting that we pair those expert specialists with state-of-the-art technology — providing our patients with a truly exceptional care experience.”
— Vicky Diamond, Senior Vice President, Central Region, WellSpan Health and President, WellSpan York Hospital

Dynamic Duo

The new MRI suite employs a Philips Ingenia Elition 3.0T unit, which features a spacious, open scanning tunnel and utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to produce higher resolution images, promoting greater detail and scanning times that are 30%–40% quicker than average MRI speeds. Such advances reduce the potential for patient anxiety and provide WellSpan’s highly trained imaging specialists with even greater diagnostic capabilities.

The MRI suite is also outfitted with the Philips Ingenia Ambition 1.5T X — a machine that combines an entirely digital system, healthcare informatics and a fully sealed magnet that requires less than half a percent of the amount of liquid helium necessary to cool a conventional MRI system. This advancement means the MRI equipment is smaller and lighter with minimized operational downtime, which equates to less waiting and reduced time spent inside the scanner for patients.

Most importantly are the enhanced diagnostic capabilities this equipment brings to the region’s patients. For instance, in the case of breast MRIs, clinicians can now see millimeter-sized tumors.

“The tumor could be the size of a small pea,” says Edward Steiner, MD, Chair of WellSpan Imaging and Radiation Oncology. “If you put the patient in the MRI and administer contrast, now the tumor lights up like a lightbulb and can be localized for biopsy. With the new equipment, we can see much smaller lesions, and the synchronous cancer rates are significant. The MRIs are very valuable tools because they allow us to find small tumors that may otherwise be missed.”

The same is true for prostate cancer MRIs. WellSpan York Hospital is the only medical center in four counties that conducts prostate MRI with a dedicated AI-aided biopsy.

“We take high-risk patients to the OR and fuse the MRI and the ultrasound images in front of us,” Dr. Steiner says. “We put a GPS antenna over the patient’s body, and that allows the interventional radiologist to biopsy the lesion within a millimeter using the biopsy needle.”

Edward Steiner, MD, Chair of Imaging and Radiation Oncology at WellSpan Health, reviews MRI scans with Gena Paul, CRNP. The AI program produces a colorized, high-resolution MRI scan with suspicious lesions highlighted to assist WellSpan physicians in identifying tumors earlier.

Dr. Steiner and his colleagues are finding prostate cancer in patients who have been told they do not have a positive biopsy. A timely prostate cancer diagnosis is a crucial element for patients and their referring physicians in deciding an approach to treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, early stage treatment renders five-year relative survival rates of nearly 98%, while later stage treatment five-year relative survival rates are just over 30%.

“We’re doing multiparametric prostate imaging — we’re using AI to look at the images, and those usually have 4,000 to 5,000 slices,” Dr. Steiner says. “Our minds can’t process that much information without assistance, so AI helps with that aspect. When we find something, we do a biopsy. If the patient is high risk, we can do a painless biopsy under general anesthesia.”

WellSpan York Hospital’s new MRI suite contains two patient bays suitable for anesthesia recovery, so the suite can act as a postoperative area for patients who require it.

This machine is also designed with patient comfort in mind. It boasts a 70-centimeter opening instead of the usual 50 centimeters and provides an ambient experience with scenic projections on the wall. Plus, the magnet itself provides interesting, engaging lighting. Patients can enjoy listening to music or watching a movie that can be viewed through a mirror while the machine is in operation because the magnets are much quieter than those in the older equipment.

“The key to imaging is to have patients be very still, and if they’re entertained and the exam time is shorter, it fosters that goal,” Dr. Steiner says. “The magnet also uses a very high gradient, which makes the exam very fast while providing us with better resolution.”

A New PET/CT System

Within Non-Invasive Cardiology, WellSpan York Hospital also recently installed a new Siemens Biograph Horizon PET/CT system, a scanning device utilized by skilled medical professionals in the treatment of cancer, metabolism issues and heart function concerns. WellSpan York Hospital is the only hospital on the East Coast with a dedicated cardiac PET unit.

This technology also delivers more precise results in shorter scan times. For instance, an average four-hour exam on SPECT equipment takes place in fewer than 30 minutes using the new Biograph Horizon PET/CT system. Additionally, radiation exposure for both patients and staff is significantly reduced with a PET stress-testing program compared with a SPECT stress- testing program, which was not possible before with SPECT.

The image quality with PET/CT is such that it provides interventional specialists at Wellspan York Hospital a platform for additional coronary flow analysis.

First in the State

As impressive as WellSpan York Hospital’s imaging suite is, it was not the first in Pennsylvania to offer the Philips Ingenia Elition 3.0T. That distinction belongs to WellSpan Health and Surgery Center in Hanover, a state-of-the-art, 80,000-square foot healthcare facility that opened in March 2019, providing more than 12 primary and specialty care practices and surgical and ambulatory services in one convenient location.

As one of the largest and most technologically advanced outpatient surgery centers in Central Pennsylvania, WellSpan Health and Surgery Center selected the Ingenia Elition 3.0T MRI machine because of its unprecedented speed, clarity and patient-friendly benefits, including the reduced noise factor and wide bore.

“This system puts the WellSpan Health and Surgery Center in Hanover squarely on the map as a destination for unmatched imaging capabilities,” says Vicky Diamond, Senior Vice President, Central Region, WellSpan Health and President, WellSpan York Hospital.

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