Building An MRI, GE Accidentally Invents Time-Travel

OK, I’ve been reading too many headlines in supermarket check-out aisles, but what else is a guy with an overactive imagination supposed to come up with?

You see, back in 1983 when GE was going through their pre-market approvals with the FDA for their first commercial clinical MRI system, they indicated that MRI suite safety minimally required ferromagnetic detection pre-screening. The only problem was, it hadn’t been invented yet!

During R&D the physicists at GE discovered that the MRI scanner could be tuned in such a way to create something of a ‘worm hole’ and permit time-travel. Anyone who has spent 2 or 3 hours in an MRI, only to have their wristwatch tell them they’d only been in it for 30 minutes, won’t have a hard time believing that there’s still some vestige of time-warp still left, even in contemporary MRI scanners.

Time Travel Via MRI Scanner

What did the GE physicists see during their clandestine time-traveling jaunts into the 21st century? We suspect that they saw MRI’s everywhere – hospitals, imaging centers, strip malls – and each and every one of them was protected by ferromagnetic detection pre-screening devices. When they returned to 1983, it seemed such a natural thought, to protect patients, staff and these marvelous machines, that the requirement for ferromagnetic detectors actually made it into their safety submittals to the FDA.

Admittedly, I’m taking (more than a little) artistic license here. What GE actually stated in their November, 1983 ‘Hazard Analysis’ that accompanied their MRI device application to the FDA was that metal detection (for prevention of ferromagnetic projectile accidents) was a “minimum requirement” for safety in the MRI suite.

As described in my exhaustive summary of a couple weeks ago, conventional “airport” style metal detectors are actually horribly counterproductive to pre-MRI screening for most patients, particularly when screening for ferromagnetic materials. Operationally, this is a truth that simply couldn’t be known to GE at the time that they were preparing their recommendations for MRI safety, a concern that never really existed before they brought this product to market.

This metal detector “minimum requirement” soon became an unwelcome nuisance, and GE’s promotion of it as a safety tool withered to near-nothingness.

That’s not to say that the hazard that the metal detector was to help mitigate withered, too. In fact, as GE (and Siemens, and Philips, and Toshiba, and Hitachi…) made stronger and better MRI systems, the risks of ferromagnetic projectiles kept ratcheting upward, too.

Today we’re faced with sticky situation… The entire FDA approval of MRI can be traced back to this GE application, which recognized – and required – projectile protection. The only available tool (at the time) turned out to be far less effective than hoped, so its use was discontinued. After a tragic, headline-grabbing MRI projectile fatality in 2001, real ferromagnetic (only) MRI pre-screening instruments were developed, and have been available for a number of years. However, these new tools, which respond specifically to the needs identified by GE almost 30 years ago, haven’t been appointed by manufacturers and regulators to the safety role that they’re meant to play.

Perhaps it’s all a product of the ongoing effort on the part of the government to keep the secret of time-travel… well… secret, but nobody seems interested in revisiting patient protections called for in 1983.

And what became of those GE physicists who originally stumbled upon the secret of MRI time-travel? Well, after collecting data on the forthcoming 20 years worth of Superbowls, World Series’, and PowerBall jackpots, they each decided that working for a living was, simply, too much work.

But you can bet, whatever private island-paradise they own today, when their doctor proscribes them an MRI, they find one with ferromagnetic pre-screening.

; )

Lest anyone unfamiliar with my dry wit think that I was the least-bit serious in the above post… I know of no relationship between MRI’s and time travel. That part of the story is completely made-up. But that doesn’t make the entire post fictional. The details about the 1983 ‘Hazard Analysis’, and its call for ferromagnetic projectile protection (part of GE’s original application to the FDA) are correct.

Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director
Mednovus, Inc.

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