MRI takes Vail’s sports medicine research to new level |

MRI takes Vail’s sports medicine research to new level

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Director of Radiology - Charles Ho M.D., Ph.D.,

VAIL, Colorado ” Doctors and researchers at Vail’s Steadman Hawkins Research Foundation hope to break new ground in diagnosing and treating orthopedic sports injuries with the help of an advanced MRI scanner.

The machine, named the Magnetom Verio 3.0, is two times as powerful as conventional MRI machines, creating much more detailed images, said Walter Marzendorfer, CEO of Siemens Medical Research, the company that makes the scanner.

There are three others of its kind on this side of the country and 34 in the United States, but Steadman Hawkins is the only clinic using the machine for sports injury research.

Less powerful MRI machines would be able to see if there was a muscle or joint injury, but for more detail on the extent of the injury, usually a biopsy or other invasive procedure is needed, said Charles Ho, director of imaging research at the Steadman Hawkins Research Foundation.

However, with the high quality of the scanner’s images, doctors would be able to diagnose the injury, see the extent of the damage, and even monitor post-surgery recovery, all without cutting the skin.

For athletes, the nonsurgical diagnosis means that doctors can determine the status of the injury without keeping the athlete on the sidelines for recovery.

Besides producing much more detailed images, the machine also has a larger-than-average “bore,” or opening, and can hold patients weighing up to 550 pounds.

“It will help with football players and other large athletes,” said Michael Egan, CEO of the Steadman Hawkins Clinic, comparing the scanner to the conventional machines with much smaller openings. “You can bend your knees, or turn on your side (inside the scanner).”

The scanner will also allow doctors to study the way muscles and joints heal, determine the health of muscle tissue, and even detect muscle degeneration before surgery is necessary.

“This can be for the elite athlete to the weekend warrior. This can also detect overuse injuries,” Ho said. “I think it’s very exciting, and the potential is huge.”

The Steadman Hawkins Research Foundation was chosen by Siemens as a partner because the clinic keeps some of the most detailed clinical information on its patients and is leading in this type of research.

“We find that Steadman Hawkins is leading the most in this field of musculoskeletal research,” Marzendorfer said. “We’re both driven by innovation, and together we hope to bring (this type of research) to the next level.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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