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2008 Press Releases
New Mease Dunedin Radiology Technology Simulates Standing, Gravity's Effect on the Spine

Portal Gravity System Improves Diagnosis, Care of Back Pain

DUNEDIN, Fla., (October 16, 2008) - Oh, my aching back! Whether it’s caused by heavy lifting or advancing age – nearly everyone at some point in their life experiences pain in their lower back. Pinpointing the cause of back pain is important to determine the best course of treatment. Mease Dunedin Hospital now offers a new way to diagnose lumbar spinal stenosis (lower back pain) and other spinal issues using radiology technology called the Portal Gravity System (PGS). Combined with the hospital’s 3T MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), PGS allows a patient to be maneuvered into the MRI machine in a lying position, but simulating a standing position to show the effect of gravity on the patient’s spine - providing a clearer, more detailed radiology image, faster.

“Medical procedures for back pain are performed nearly every day at Mease Dunedin Hospital. With PGS technology, we’re at the forefront of accurately diagnosing and treating spinal problems,” said Lou Galdieri, administrator and chief operating officer, Mease Dunedin Hospital.

How PGS works:

A vest with straps along the sides is placed on the patient. While lying on the 3T MRI table, the straps are pulled taut while the patient’s legs remain straight and their feet placed against a footrest. Through the process of pulling the straps, gentle pressure is applied to the patient’s shoulders and spine. This simulates pressure placed on the spine as if the patient were in a standing position. A digital weight scale in the footrest measures the amount of pressure on the spine and when the appropriate amount has been applied, the patient is maneuvered into the 3T MRI for radiology testing.

More than 400,000 Americans suffer from lumbar spinal stenosis according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). Caused by a pinched nerve in the spine, symptoms can include persistent pain running through the buttocks down the back of the leg.

“Many back pain sufferers experience pain while standing. The PGS allows us to use a more advanced MRI machine that can produce very detailed images to see what’s happening to the spine as if the patient were standing. The better the radiology image of the spine, the better we’re able to treat the patient,” said Yair Safriel, M.D., Morton Plant Mease spine and neuroradiologist.

Radiology testing of the lumbar spine can be done while a patient is in the standing position utilizing other MRI machines. However, compared to standing MRIs which are only .6T, 3T MRI images are higher resolution and typically can be produced in less than 10 minutes. Standing MRI testing often requires the patient to remain upright for approximately 40 minutes.

The introduction of PGS technology augments the creation of a specialty center of excellence for spine care at Mease Dunedin Hospital. The hospital is undergoing a multi-phase, $19 million renovation and new construction project. Anticipated to be complete in 2010, the spine care, orthopaedics and neurosciences center of excellence will include seven new operating rooms to accommodate technology and equipment for complex orthopaedic and neurosurgical medical procedures.

Established in 1937, Mease Dunedin Hospital is a 143-bed facility committed to improving the health of everyone it serves. In 2008, the hospital was awarded Magnet Designation for the second time by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the most prestigious national recognition of excellence in nursing care. In May 2005 Mease Dunedin was recognized as an industry leader in congestive heart care when it received the Premier Award for Quality from Premier Healthcare Informatics, a national alliance of not-for-profit hospitals and health care systems. The hospitals of Morton Plant Mease Health Care are part of the first group of hospitals nationally to have earned re-certification of the Gold Seal of Approval™ for stroke care from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Mease Dunedin Hospital is located at 601 Main St., Dunedin, Fla., (727) 733-1111.

Nationally recognized for health care excellence, Morton Plant Mease Health Care is dedicated to providing community owned health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care. Morton Plant Mease Health Care is comprised of the following hospitals – Morton Plant, Clearwater; Mease Dunedin, Dunedin; Mease Countryside, Safety Harbor and Morton Plant North Bay, New Port Richey.

Contact: Beth Hardy (727) 298-6199 Phone, (727) 402-8113 Pager or Amy Morrow (727) 461-8538 Phone (727) 402-5975 Pager