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Intraoperative MRI

Intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI) is a type of imaging technology that is used to help guide neurosurgeons or other specialists during surgery. Intraoperative MRI lets the surgeon capture scans during procedures. These images can then be used during surgery to evaluate the progress of the procedure.

What is an intraoperative MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnet, radio waves and a computer to create detailed images that give doctors more information about your diagnosis and treatment. An intraoperative MRI uses the same technology, but is used during your procedure to help guide surgery.

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Who can have an iMRI?

iMRI is most often used during brain surgery. Other times, it may be used for neurovascular surgery. Your doctor will decide if you can benefit from using an iMRI based on your diagnosis and treatment plan.

What does an iMRI diagnose?

If the images taken during an iMRI reveal damaged brain tissue remaining, doctors can refine the surgical plan in real time. This allows care teams to improve the results of surgeries, often eliminating the need for a second procedure. Using an intraoperative MRI also improves safety, as patients no longer must be moved for imaging while under anesthesia.

What are the risks of an intraoperative MRI?

Using an iMRI during neurosurgery is expected to reduce the overall risks associated with your procedure. An intraoperative MRI lowers some of the complications associated with brain surgery while increasing the degree of surgical precision that’s possible.

Using iMRI during surgery can avoid the issues normally associated with transporting a person who is under anesthesia to a different area for imaging tests. The hospital bed slides into the MRI scanner to preserve sterility, offering a safer experience.

Before your iMRI

Your doctor will give you specific instructions to follow before your procedure, including information about how to prepare for your iMRI. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have a history of claustrophobia (anxiety in small spaces).

What to expect during your iMRI

During an intraoperative MRI, your doctor will use magnetic resonance imaging to create real-time images as the surgery progresses. An iMRI can be a portable device that’s moved into the operating room, or your surgery may be performed near an MRI machine to use as needed during the procedure.

Recovery and results for intraoperative MRI

Although an MRI is a noninvasive imaging test, an intraoperative MRI is only performed during surgery, so your doctor will give you more information about what to expect during your recovery. One of the advantages of an iMRI is allowing for the utmost precision during surgery, which can prevent the need for follow-up surgeries.

Why choose us for iMRI

The iMRI offers the highest resolution imaging available in the country. The University of Kansas Health System has the region's only intraoperative MRI located adjacent to the surgical suite. The iMRI adjacent to the operating room allows our surgeons to capture scans during surgery without moving you during the procedure.

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The intraoperative MRI enables surgeons to capture images during surgeries to assess progress and refine procedures in real time.

Paul Camarata, MD: iMRI means intraoperative MRI, which means that it is used in surgery at the time, usually, of an open usually cranial neurosurgical procedure.

Dr. Camarata: There are all kinds of issues transporting an anesthetized patient to different floors, different rooms, many a long distance away.

Dr. Camarata: Now, we have the MRI, essentially, immediately adjacent, and so the person doesn't even need to leave the operating room bed. The same bed, literally, slides right into the MRI scanner, which is adjacent so we can maintain sterility. We don't have the issues with transporting patients long distances. The anesthesia circuit is maintained, in many cases. And, so, it's a much safer experience for the patient.

Dr. Camarata: Brain tumors, when we see them, are oftentimes very similar to the brain tissue that is immediately adjacent to them. So when we go in in the operating room, even with a microscope and with the tactile feedback of our hands and our instruments, we sometimes can't tell that this tissue here is tumor, and the adjacent tumor is normal brain. So sometimes we end up erring on the side of caution and leaving a little bit of tumor that looked like it was normal brain around it. Now, we can take the patient when we're done with the resection as we see it under the microscope immediately to the MRI scanner, and see "oh my goodness, there's another 10% of tumor in this location adjacent to our little cavity that we've created and it's safe to take that out." Come right back to the operating room and remove it. And we know for a fact that people who have a large majority of their tumor, or a larger majority of their tumor removed, do better in the long run: Longer survival and higher cure rates.

Dr. Camarata: It's a big boon to recruitment of the top quality tumor surgeons, the top quality cancer researchers, who will be able to come here and participate. I think we'll have a lot fewer patients having to leave the area and go to some major centers around the country because we now have this.

Dr. Camarata: Simeon Bell, who founded the hospital, did it under the guise of making it so that no one would have to leave the Kansas City area to get the best care ever. So we wanted that to be true in neurosurgery and now with this it is.