March 24th, 2011

Great River Medical Center’s Diagnostic Imaging Department is using virtual-reality technology to distract some patients from claustrophobic feelings and banging sounds during magnetic resonance imaging procedures. CinemaVision® is a fiber-optic digital audio-visual entertainment system that allows patients to watch broadcast television or DVDs. Using the specialized goggles is similar to watching a high-resolution 62-inch screen from 5.5 feet way.

Great River Medical Center is the only hospital in Iowa with CinemaVision. The $40,000 system was purchased by Great River Friends, an organization dedicated to helping patients and their families, staff and the community through gifts of time, talent and treasure.

“Patients love it. It keeps their minds off the procedure and makes the time go faster,” said Greg Fields, director, Diagnostic Imaging.

CinemaVision is available for use with one of Great River Medical Center’s two MRI scanners. Patients who would like to use CinemasVision should request it when scheduling appointments. It is compatible with most procedures except head and neck scans because the goggles and headphones don’t fit in the stabilization unit that holds the head in place during the procedure.

CinemaVision is especially beneficial for children because it may eliminate the need for sedation during procedures. According to a study by McMaster University and McMaster Children’s Hospital in Canada, using the system reduces fear and anxiety so children are more cooperative and remain still during MRI scans. Besides eliminating the use of drugs, sedation-free MRIs often can be scheduled sooner, and they cost less than MRIs with sedation.

“We’re very grateful to Great River Friends,” Fields said. “We wouldn’t have CinemaVision without their help.”