Monmouth Medical Center’s new virtual MRI technology helps alleviate patient anxiety

New MRI technology recently introduced at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch is helping to alleviate the anxiety and claustrophobia patients may feel during scanning procedures.

The hospital’s new MRI-compatible audiovisual system is allowing patients to have an immersive distractive experience while undergoing this imaging procedure. The system, joins Jersey Shore University Medical Center as the only two in NJ in providing it, utilizes virtual reality goggles and headphones, providing vivid video and symphonic-quality audio, which provide a high-definition movie experience that distracts patients from the confined space and MRI noise.

Patients have the option to play a blu-ray or DVD movie on the CinemaVision Controller in order to see it during the MR scanning procedure. Features of the system include widescreen video display and head mounting that produces the equivalent of a dramatic 62-inch screen viewed from a 5.5-foot distance.

Nicholas DeMonte, lead MRI technologist at MMC, said the technology has been very well-received by both pediatric and adult patients undergoing an MRI exam. The ease of use and set up enables the MRI technicians to offer the option to a large selection of patients, he adds.

Studies have shown that this technology can significantly reduce the number of patients who require sedation for an MRI and assist those who are claustrophobic, according to Dr. Jonathan Teitelbaum, chair of pediatrics at MMC. He notes the technology is helpful to both adults and children, but is particularly useful for pediatric patients who are often unable to remain still during an MRI scan.

“Sedation can help patients remain still during an MRI scan, but it does carry risks and may cause nausea, vomiting, irritability and fatigue, requires fasting and adds to the time the patient spends in the imaging facility,” Dr. Tejas Shinde, chair of radiology at MMC, said.