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Operating an MRI – Some Safety Precautions You Need to Know

by | Dec 28, 2020 | MRI

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Most people generally understand that MRI machines are advanced medical equipment with many necessary restrictions and precautions around them. Since it generates a high-powered magnetic field to capture the images required for diagnostic purposes, implementing the right safety protocols is necessary to eliminate any risks for both the patients and staff. Understanding these safety precautions and operating guidelines down to the particulars of the MRI parts to utilize and maintain will allow you to run a safe and more efficient facility. 

 

The Risks of Operating an MRI

Since MRIs use powerful magnets to produce the detailed images used for diagnoses, it will cause any metal objects in the vicinity to be attracted to the MRI system. The 1.5T magnet produces a magnetic field that is about 21,000 times more powerful than the earth’s own magnetic field—which can pose a hazard if any magnetic objects are nearby! This is why MRIs are found in facilities that are well protected to ensure that the magnet cannot penetrate far enough to pull in unwanted objects. This also explains why metal objects of any kind aren’t allowed with patients getting an MRI. 

MRI machines can also cause disturbances and disruptions to electronics. It can cause cell phones, cameras, and other devices to malfunction, even erasing credit cards with magnetic strips. People who rely on devices like pacemakers and hearing aids should also steer clear of MRI machines for their own safety.

Apart from the basic magnetic field, a bigger risk of such a machine would lie if one of its core components is broken. For example, if a unit needs an MRI coil repair, then it should be done immediately—else you could suffer from an inopportune magnet quench. This occurs when the magnetic coils become resistant to conducting the magnetic field and result in the release of dangerous helium gas, causing suffocation. 

Other issues, such as thermal burns and hearing loss, can also occur if there is a faulty component in the unit. Aside from the prolonged imaging causing the body temperature to increase—and possibly cause burns—the loud noises from the MRI system can cause patients some degree of hearing loss following their scan. 

 

Safety Guidelines for MRI Operators

Given the risks associated with operating an MRI, staff members need to be fully prepared and equipped to ensure their safety and the safety of their patients. Here are some safety guidelines that MRI operators can follow to maintain a secure environment for MRI scans:

 

Thoroughly Scan All Persons Entering the MRI Room

No matter who enters the MRI room, staff members need to scan them carefully for any potentially ferromagnetic items and screen for metal implants, such as pacemakers, metal rods or clips, heart valve replacements, and more. 

People with implants need to have an orbital x-ray and receive clearance from a radiologist. 

 

Eliminate Unnecessary Objects 

No unnecessary objects, even non-ferromagnetic ones, should be allowed inside the MRI room to keep the space clear and safe. These include stretchers, wheelchairs, or IV pumps and stands into the MRI room. 

 

Reduce the Number of Personnel in the Room

The only staff who should have access to the MRI room are level II employees since they have the training and knowledge required in operating an MRI system. Level II staff such as MRI technicians, MRI nurses, and radiologists are prepared to deal with the risks involved with using such machinery.

 

Provide Noise Protection

Ensure that your patients are given earplugs to prevent the development of hearing issues and reduce any discomfort from the scanner’s loud noises. Sometimes patients will be allowed to listen to music while their scan is ongoing, so inform them of this option and secure the necessary safety measures. 

 

Makeup and Tattoos on Patients

Patients should remove all makeup and inform the technician if they have any tattoos. The ink used in tattoos may sometimes contain iron, which can cause some discomfort during the procedure. 

 

Conclusion

There are many factors to consider when doing an MRI scan. Medical facilities must ensure that its installation is compliant with set regulations and that the necessary guidelines and procedures during operation are followed closely. By understanding and executing these safety standards consistently, you’re providing a medical environment that is reliable, comfortable, and safe for both your patients and your staff. 

Here at Direct Med Parts and Service, we specialize in providing CT and MRI parts and coils. We also recognize the importance of delivering the right quality parts to service professionals promptly. For various MRI and CT parts and services, contact us today!

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