As if you needed a personal invitation from me, here it is nonetheless. Please join me (and a several thousand of your colleagues) at the American Hot Rod Association [ahem] American Healthcare Radiology Administrators annual meeting in August. And though it may not really be my place to invite you to the conference, I do want to extend to you a personal invitation to 2½ special events that will happen during that week.
The last time the United States Veterans Administration issued an update to their MRI Design Guide was 1996, which seems to be about 50 years in the MRI world. Just this past week, however, they made up for lost time and did so in a big way!
The new VA MRI Design Guide takes a quantum leap in addressing new technologies, new clinical practices and new tools and tactics for enhancing the safety of patients and staff. One of these new strategies includes the use of ferromagnetic detection systems for MRI patient screening.
The new Design Guide is fully downloadable in PDF form in four individual sections from the VA’s website:
Or, you can download the complete document, rolled into one PDF, from the Mednovus website:
The VA joins a growing list of professional bodies, accrediting agencies and organizations recommending the use of ferromagnetic detection for patient screening.
In a forthcoming entry I’ll feature quotes from and links to these various standards calling for the use of ferromagnetic detection to enhance MRI patient screening.
Regards,Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director Mednovus, Inc. Tobias.Gilk@Mednovus.com www.MEDNOVUS.com
What a metal detector actually does is pretty self-evident by the name of the product… it detects metals. If you’re looking for gold doubloons on the beach or trying to find an underground gas pipe, a conventional metal detector is what you want. But if you’re screening people and objects before they go into the room with the giant magnet at the heart of a magnetic resonance imager (MRI), you’re likely concerned about finding those things – like pocketknives, cell phones, iron-containing jewelry, wheelchairs, medical gas cylinders, etc… – that can be attracted to the magnet with such force that they can fly across the room.
Welcome to this community where we will be sharing information on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) safety issues, namely ferromagnetic detection (FMD), which is a big-mouthful that means metal detectors built specifically for screening of visitors and equipment entering the MRI scanner room.
These are not ‘airport-style’ detectors that you’ve passed-through under the watchful eyes of the TSA workers… No, these are specialty detectors that have been developed for the sole purpose of finding ferromagnetic materials, those that become magnet-homing-missiles, to keep them out of MRI scanners.“Why worry so much? I mean, can’t you just crawl in there and pull something out if it did happen to fly in?”
Well, when you consider that objects can zoom in at speeds up to (and beyond) 40 miles per hour, and that oxygen cylinders and floor polishers and many other objects have injured patients and staff and incapacitated millions of dollars of MRI equipment, the protection of both people and the sizable capital investment demands additional layers of safety.
MRI services are very expensive to provide and generate huge amounts of revenue (they have to in order to pay for themselves). Even if it weren’t a safety issue, when a MRI provider is faced with a loss of $1,000 per hour (revenue that they can’t earn while the scanner is inoperable) plus the ongoing overhead expenses that almost equal the hourly revenue, a ‘lost day’ of MRI scanning can result in tens-of-thousands of dollars in unrecoverable costs.
Above-and-beyond the financial arguments, this is a safety issue, one that has been endorsed by the American College of Radiology (ACR) Guidance Document for Safe MR Practices: 2007 and by the Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert #38
“[F]erromagnetic detection systems are currently available that are simple to operate, capable of detecting even very small ferromagnetic objects external to the patient, and now, for the first time, differentiating between ferromagnetic and nonferromagnetic materials. While the use of conventional metal detectors is not recommended, the use of ferromagnetic detection systems is recommended as an adjunct to thorough and conscientious screening of persons and devices approaching Zone IV.” [emphasis mine]
— p. 4
“Ferromagnetic detection systems have been demonstrated to be highly effective as a quality assurance tool, verifying the successful screening and identifying ferromagnetic objects which were not discovered by conventional screening methods. It is recommended that new facility construction anticipate the use of ferromagnetic detection screening in Zone II and provide for installation of the devices in a location which facilitates use and throughput.” [emphasis mine]
— Appendix 2, p. 21
“[U]se other means to determine if the patient has implants or other devices that could be negatively affected by the MRI scan (e.g., look for scars or deformities, scrutinize the patient’s history, use plain-film radiography, use ferromagnetic detectors to assist in the screening process, etc.).” [emphasis mine]
I can’t wait to share with you even more of the information I have on MRI safety issues and the simple and direct steps that MRI patients and providers can take to make sure that MRI continues to build upon its reputation as one of the safest medical imaging modalities available.Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director
Mednovus, Inc. Tobias.Gilk@Mednovus.com www.MEDNOVUS.com