I live in a rural part of Wyoming. I need an MRI of my rotator cuff. We have a local hospital with an MRI machine, but my doctor wants me to travel to a larger city with a newer MRI. Does it really make a difference?

It can. Older MRIs don't always measure the tissue as accurately as the newer MRIs. For example, a rotator cuff tear may be reported by an older machine as a range from two to four cm. The doctor needs a single, accurate measurement to get ready for the operation.

The measuring tool in newer MRIs can give the width and length of a rotator cuff tear. It can also tell the doctor how far the tendon has pulled back into the tissue. This kind of information can be very helpful before an operation.

Look for a facility with MRIs that are less than five years old. Newer is better.