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Emergency MRI Procedures

Minor emergencies in the MR suite can turn into more dangerous situations (situations that are more dangerous) when proper procedures are not followed. During an emergency inside the MR suite, three simple steps should be followed: 1) Evacuate the MR scanner room; 2) secure the room to prevent entry, and 3) alert a senior technologist or manager.

If the emergency involves the health of a person, such as cardiac arrest or a seizure, remove the person from the magnet room using MR-compatible equipment before administering medical treatment. Do not attempt to resuscitate or defibrillate anyone inside the MR scanner room.

If a fire occurs in the MR suite, evacuate the scanner room, secure the door, sound the alarm and call nine-one-one or your local fire department. Once the MR suite is evacuated, only properly trained personnel should attempt to contain the fire, using only MR tested and approved extinguishers. Untrained or unsupervised personnel should never enter the MR Suite. Not all firefighters or other first responders are aware of the hazardous magnetic field. An entry level awareness of MRI hazards can be accomplished by a safety-focused MRI DVD.

If the Missile Effect pulls an item into the scanner, a potential emergency situation may occur. Only after an object has completely settled on the magnet should a careful attempt be made to remove it. If the object can not be removed by two people without the aid of tools, an MRI service company should be called. The service company may have to ramp-down the MRI system, which slowly reduces the strength of the magnetic field.

A system quench rapidly shuts down the magnet, but is the last resort because it is both dangerous and can permanently damage the scanner. Unless it is a life-threatening situation, a quench must be authorized by the appropriate personnel. Evacuate the magnet room before a quench, or as soon as possible after the quench begins. Only trained and qualified personnel may enter the MR suite after a quench is initiated.

Pressure from released cryogen gas can force inward-swinging doors shut. If this occurs while inside the MR suite, break the glass or a window to release the pressure. Remember, the priorities in an emergency are to evacuate the MR suite, sound the alarm, secure the scanner room and alert the proper personnel.

Hospital and MR facility personnel that work near the MR scanner must be aware of the powerful magnetic field and its associated hazards. For personnel not formally trained in a Radiology program, an MR safety program should be established for each individual facility. A high quality, Level 1 MRI DVD will nicely supplement in-house safety training.

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