13th June, 2002 15:38:20 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The American College of Radiology has issued new safety recommendations for the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines in order to help prevent MRI-related accidents.
The new recommendations include restricting access to MRI rooms, appointing a special director of hospital MRI facilities and educating emergency personnel and others who might work near or in an MRI department about safety.
The group issued the guidelines partly in response to the death of a 6-year-old boy last year during an MRI scan.
An MRI produces images of internal body structures using an electromagnet, which strongly attracts metal objects. Last July, while the boy was having a routine MRI scan after brain surgery at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York, an oxygen tank was brought into the room. The MRI machine's powerful magnet pulled the metal tank into it, where it struck the boy's head and fractured his skull.
"In my opinion, if we could adequately restrict access to the MR machine, better educate the MR staff and better educate emergency personnel and others who might need to be near the MR machine, we could potentially reduce the number of accidents by at least 80%," Dr. Emanuel Kanal of the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the lead author of the guidelines, said in a prepared statement.
Kanal and his team recommend restructuring the MRI department environment. The team proposes that MRI departments be divided into four rooms, which they refer to as zones. The zones would include a patient waiting room (Zone 1), a patient changing/holding area (Zone 2), a control room (Zone 3), and the MRI room (Zone 4).
Access to Zone 3 and 4, the authors state in their report in the June issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology, would be restricted to trained MRI personnel.
The team also suggests that each facility appoint an MRI director to oversee all aspects of safety and write reports about accidents, or near-accidents. They also call for a comprehensive MRI safety education campaign for emergency personnel such as firefighters and police, as well as hospital maintenance and janitorial workers.
Lastly, the researchers suggest all patients fill out a questionnaire asking them if they have any metal implants in their bodies, such as a pacemaker.
SOURCE: American Journal of Roentgenology 2002;178:1335-1347.
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