First in the world intraoperative MRI surgical suite at U of M Medical Center

Updated: July 24, 2019 06:28 PM

A 7.2 ton intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (IMRI) machine will soon be operational inside the University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC).

The massive project will make the university's new surgical suite a first of its kind in the world.


On Wednesday, work crews hoisted the massive magnet into a state-of-the-art neurosurgical suite.

"Through this project, we will bring the most advanced technologies to our patients who need brain surgery," said Dr. Clark Chen, head of the Department of Neurosurgery.

Chen said the IMRI unit will allow surgeons to actually see what is happening in a patient's brain during surgery.

"By having this accessible to a surgeon in real time, if you run into a question in terms of how much tumor did I remove, whether the portion of the brain is working, we just bring in the magnet and visualize and have a definitive answer rather than guessing," he said.

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The layout of what is called the "T-suite" will allow the magnet to be rotated between each of three operating rooms. A control station allows doctors and nurses to see patients as they are being imaged. Behind that there's also a special observation area.

"We're expecting many people from all over the world to come and observe how we do our surgeries here at the University of Minnesota," said Chen.

The work to create the space and get the high-tech equipment inside was no easy task.

"It's a lot of work, you've got to pay attention, put it on rollers to make sure you're not going to wreck any of the floors because the finished floor is on here," said Dan Smith, superintendent with McGough Construction.

Chen said it will not only revolutionize current surgeries and procedures, but will also allow them to discover new ones.

"I think this will serve patient needs better, and allow us to achieve better outcomes wherever the patient comes from," said Chen.

The $13 million "T-suite" should be complete this fall, with the first patient expected in October.

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Jessica Miles

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