Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center Offers Quicker, Quieter, More Precise Look at the Heart
By Space Coast Daily // January 1, 2022
HRMC'S new General Electric Sigma Artist MRI is the gold standard
Health First’s new cardiac MRI machine is the first of its kind in Brevard, getting you the diagnosis you need, faster and more comfortably.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Last September, Richard Bueno was experiencing flu-like symptoms and headed to his provider to get checked out. He was diagnosed with bronchitis and was recommended to undergo a chest X-ray.
The X-ray showed Richard’s lungs were clear, but Dr. Thomas Swain, a Health First Medical Group cardiologist, suspected he might have mild cardiomyopathy, a condition that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body.
Dr. Swain needed a clearer picture of Richard’s heart – so he ordered a cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the area to see how it was working. That’s when Richard learned about the new General Electric Sigma Artist MRI machine at Holmes Regional Medical Center.
“Dr. Swain said the echocardiograms and X-rays are nice, but this new MRI is the gold standard to which all other techniques are compared to,” Richard said.
The noninvasive test, using the Sigma Artist, does not use X-rays or radiation, but relies on a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to create a series of images of the heart and its surrounding blood vessels.
Designed for fast imaging times – which leads to shorter patient times in the scanner – the new MRI machine is the most accurate and sophisticated in the world.
This includes being able to perform MRI tests on patients with MRI-compatible implanted defibrillators or pacemakers. Patients with back issues are more comfortable, thanks to the Comfort Tilt feature.
Holmes Regional Medical Center upgraded one of their other MRI machines to the same features as the Sigma Artist. After having many MRIs in the past, this new machine made the experience so much easier for Richard, including being able to clearly hear the music that’s part of the built-in music system, and staff talking to him during the imaging.
“All my previous MRIs had a clanking-magnets sound that got very loud, but this one didn’t have that,” Richard said. “It was very quiet, and every time they spoke to me, I heard what they were saying.”
According to Dr. Rick Thompson, the Health First Medical Group cardiologist who conducts these tests, the resolution of the new MRI machines far exceeds many of the standard techniques used in most medical centers, including echocardiography, nuclear cardiology and positron emission tomography (PET) scanners.
“The Artist is an overall more efficient system, providing higher quality images in less time,” which allows more patients to be able to undergo such testing, Dr. Thompson said.
“These improvements are made possible by high-efficiency gradients, improved coils with more channels, and new imaging sequences that optimize the time the patient is in the scanner.”
Other benefits include:
■ The exam tables are more comfortable for patients.
■ Tests are completed in 60 minutes or less with more reliable results, compared with just over 1 to 3 hours for echocardiograms and nuclear stress tests.
■ Preliminary test results are provided directly to patients after their tests.
■ It’s ideal for patients with severe claustrophobia, since staff can perform the test under anesthesia.
“About 20 minutes after I got out of the machine, Dr. Thompson came in with the good news and advised me that I do not have cardiomyopathy and that my heart is working perfectly fine,” Richard said.
“And based on this MRI, I should not have any cardio issues for at least 5 years.”
Viera Hospital is currently in the process of replacing its MRI scanner with a GE Sigma Artist. This gold standard in MRI testing will be available in late spring.
To schedule your cardiac MRI at Holmes Regional Medical Center, please call 321.434.6100.