PLATTSBURGH The days of patients having to travel out of the area to receive the latest in magnetic resonance imaging are no more. A new high-field MRI unit, owned jointly by CVPH Medical Center and the Associates of Radiology, has brought the North Country to the forefront of medical technology, offering patients the ability have more precise diagnoses from breast exams to brain scans and vascular imaging. It brings with it new technology that we havent been able to offer before and technology thats not available elsewhere in the community including the North Country and Vermont, said radiologist Dr. Anthony Conti. The new MRI unit, housed at Valcour Imaging on the citys west side, can help provide clearer results of a spectroscopy exam of the breast, for example, giving information of the chemical make-up of a lesion to help physicians determine whether or not the growth is cancerous. Advanced imaging brings more anatomic detail to help the surgeons guide their operations and gives them a better rough understanding of where the abnormals are and the extent of them at a higher level, said fellow radiologist Dr. Wolodymyr I. Bula. Studies have shown this type of information can reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies, added Dr. Conti. The new unit can also better map cartilage of the joints, said Dr. Conti, in order for physicians to determine if there is significant loss of cartilage. This is especially important to young athletes and the elderly. Young athletes are predisposed to injuring their joints and identifying cartilage loss before injury to the joint can be very beneficial. This is a study the orthopedic surgeons, the sports medicine physicians as well as coaches and physical therapists are excited about. Advanced technology such as this ultimately allows for examinations to take less time, Dr. Bula said. Exams that perhaps took an hour on older equipment can take half the time or less, in some cases. The units image correction capabilities can also compensate for a patient who moves or fidgets during an examination referred to as motion artifact maintaining a clear, sharp picture. It used to be motion artifact was a significant problem for us, said Dr. Conti. A childs brain MRI, for example could be blurred before if the child couldnt stay still. Now we can correct for that and obtain a crystal-clear picture. The same can be said for an elderly person who may have a sore back and finds it uncomfortable to lie down for very long. This technology has many applications. Because of the partnership between CVPH, Associates of Radiology and Valcour Imaging, images from MRI scans are able to be uploaded to the medical center for use in the patients CVPH medical record. That ability allows for patient records to be accessed from either facility, said Dr. Conti, which ultimately means less waiting and increased efficiency. Theres no more worry about having to call for records and studies wont need to be repeated, said Dr. Conti. The new MRI unit has been in use since Dec. 13, and already, doctors are seeing a vast improvement in wait times, clearer diagnoses and patient satisfaction, said Dr. Conti. The unit joins other imaging units at Valcour Imaging, including a computed tomography or CT scanner and low-field MRI unit which offers a wider portal for claustrophobic or larger patients and is just another reason people are turning to the North Country for the healthcare needs, he said. Valcour Imaging is not just a brand-new building, a comfortable outpatient center, its not just state-of-the-art imaging, explained Dr. Conti. What it is, is the team of healthcare providers that include 11 board-certified radiologists, six or seven neurosists and dozens of technologists, all of which who live in the area and are dependent on a high level of healthcare. The average shopping center MRI scanner doesnt have radiologists; we can offer one-on-one interaction with our physicians and the patients. Dr. Conti stated a radiologist is always on-site, so when a woman has an MRI breast exam and has questions, she may receive answers immediately. She can have her mammogram, have an ultrasound, and the same radiologists that are looking at those images are here, said Dr. Conti. They can learn the results from them rather than getting a letter in the mail from somebody out of state. Thats the level of commitment we provide the community. This becomes another addition to the whole comprehensive breast care package we do in this community, said Dr. Bula. Its continuity of care. There are no mixed messages, no one person said this, one person said that. Its one answer, one recommendation.