By Norman McPhail

Welcome to MRI Safety Week! MRI Safety week was put in place to help educate both imaging centers & patients. Safety is always top priority for MRI centers but they can always do better. A few years back (2001), a patient in New York died due to a metal oxygen canister being drawn into the MRI where the patient was lying. With proper preparation, this accident should never have happened. MRI Safety Week will help make your next MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan experience safer, easier and much more comfortable.

Research and preparation. An MRI is basically a large magnet that uses its magnetic field to produce pictures of your body’s organs and structures. The advantage that an MRI’s has over CT Scans or x-rays is that it does not emit cancer causing radiation, just a harmless magnetic field.
Before your MRI exam, do a little research so you know what to expect. The goal is to be prepared, no surprises. Learn about how an MRI works and what to expect. Knowledge will help to ease your anxiety. Ask your doctor details about why he wants the exam. What he is looking for. What MRI machine is best for your scan?

MRI Preparation. In preparing for an MRI, it is important to know that all metal objects must be removed from your body before entering into a scanning room. You must remove objects such as hearing aids, dentures, partial plates, keys, cell phone, glasses, hair pins, jewelry, piercings, watches, money clips, credit cards, coins, pens, pocket knife, just to name a few.

Drawbacks of an MRI. One of the biggest complaints about an MRI is that it is very loud. Ear plugs or music can help drown out the noise. Check with the imaging facility ahead of time to see if they have music you can listen to or if you can bring in your own music.
An additional complaint is that MRI’s are done in a confined space (23” wide tube). Some people are claustrophobic and don’t enjoy confined spaces. Even a healthy person being squeezed into a small tube and being forced to lie still for 20-30 minutes is very difficult.

Types of MRI Machines. A standard MRI exam takes place with you lying on a table inside a small tube. During the scan you must lie completely still for 20-30 minutes. Any movement can blur the results and you will have to re-do the exam.
For those who are claustrophobic, you can opt for an Open MRI. An Open MRI does not have a tube, but an open space to lie down on for the scan. A Stand-up MRI is also available (you can sit down as well) for patients that are unable to lie down. Finally, the Short Bore MRI. A Short Bore MRI works better with claustrophobic patients. The tube is 50% shorter and 5% wider than normal. Also, Short Bore machines only require part of the body to be inside the scanning tube. A high field Short Bore machine emits clearer pictures in the same amount of time.

MRI Quality. Tesla strength is important part of MRI quality. The Tesla strength is the strength of the magnet inside the MRI. Tesla strengths range from .3 all the way up to 3.0. The higher the tesla, the clearer the scan and the shorter the scan will take. But not all exams require a 3.0 tesla machine. Check with your doctor for his recommendation for type of MRI and strength that would be best for your scan.

MRI Exam with Contrast. An MRI exam may include contrast. Contrast is a dye that is injected to help enhance the scan. Contrast does cost extra. Contrast may be needed if the doctor is looking for cancer, tumor or the patient has had a previous surgery.

If you are a patient in need of an affordable diagnostic imaging scan, contact MRI Scan Group at 1.866.674.8840, and check out their website at


MRI Accessories To Promote A Safe And Positive Environment

Written by Caleb Burch and Norman McPhail

Since MRI machines have been around, there has been constant progress to make scanners more efficient in order to help increase revenue for the facility.  The technology of today has allowed us to develop state of the art, MRI compatible accessories that can help make the experience better, safer and more profitable.  Two accessories that are commonly used today in the MRI Suite are Patient Safety Monitoring System (SAMM) and the Stereo System.

What makes an accessory MRI compatible?   All accessories used inside the magnet room (earphones, speakers, cameras and cables) must be fully dielectric (non-ferrous) and safe in an MRI environment.  Dielectric material is an electrical insulator that does not allow an electric field to flow through it, nor is it affected by the strong MRI magnet.  A special dielectric, non-ferrous transducer for the sound system ensures that the music and communication reach the patient without any safety concerns or image quality issues.  The transducer converts the electrical output into moving air – no metal speaker or cables/wires next to the patient.  The moving air delivers the audio signal through plastic tubes to a headset/microphone or speakers inside the scan room


The Patient Safety and Monitoring System (SAMM) is an MRI safe and compatible camera observation system that allows a technologist to monitor a patient while they are in the bore of the scanner.  It consists of a camera that can be mounted anywhere in the MRI suite, a single camera on one end or multiple cameras to view both sides of the magnet.  This camera then connects to a monitor placed in the operator room which displays high quality real time video to the technologist.  The system is simple and easy to install and set-up.

Being monitored by a SAMM System while receiving an MRI scan assists the patient in a couple of different ways.  Patients tend to feel more comfortable when they know that the technologist has a clear view of them.   Often time’s a patient can get restless during their MRI and can’t help but move; often times this movement goes unnoticed by the technologist and patients end up having to redo their scan.  When technologists have an easier time monitoring this movement they are able to pause the scan until the patient is ready to continue.  This saves time and money!

A happy patient makes for a happier technologist.  Benefits for the technologist don’t end there.  The installation of a monitoring system helps to make a technologist’s job easier in several ways.  First, when they’re able to monitor the patient better, they’re able to reduce motion artifacts in the final scan.  In addition, the technologist will be able to multi-task because they are able to view patients by simply viewing a screen versus looking through the traditional window.  The last but certainly not the least benefit I’d like to point out for technologists is that they will be spending less time on each patient, allowing them to see more patients, get more side work done, or even have shorter hours.

Of course, every benefit mentioned for both the patient and the technologist is also a benefit for the facility itself.  A happy patient is more likely to pay for the services they received in full, spread the word that they had a good experience, and even write a good review online.  Positive publicity is the best publicity.  Of course, the benefits for the facility go even further than that when they install the monitoring system.   The facility will be able to record EVERYTHING that happens in the MRI suite with the DVR option some monitoring systems include.  This added benefit can allow the site manager to review how well of a job their technologists are doing, provide answers when equipment suddenly breaks, or even provide protection in a potential lawsuit.


A sound system inside your MRI scanning room will help alleviate tension and promote relaxation for the patient.  A relaxed and entertained patient (not worried about lying still or loud noises), will be less likely to move, reducing re-scans and saving you time & money.

Most patients are nervous when getting an MRI and need a way to help take their mind off of the scan in order to help relax.  The sterile medical environment, the smell and the stress of a hospital room makes me nervous just thinking about it.   Music or a DVD will help lower the stress level.   Each patient is different and their comfort is always paramount.  Patients should always be encouraged to bring in their own music.  Always have music available that you have found to be helpful (waterfalls, rain) as well.

Important features to look for in an audio system are a combination CD and DVD Player, universal docking bracket for both Mp3 and iPod, remote control, earphones.   A desktop microphone is a valuable tool for every stereo system.  The microphone will allow the technician to talk to the patient during the scan.

Bottom line, get the right system.  Any accessory you add could interfere with your MRI image, so do your research.   Companies that make quality systems include Sound Imaging,, Newmatic Medical, and Universal Medical.  Prices range from $1,000 for a basic set-up to $6,000 for a complete system.

MRI Accessories will help boost your return on investment for your MRI.  Music will help put the patient at ease and promote a stress free scanning environment.  Video monitoring will identify problems as they happen in the scanning suite to help save time and boost the number of scans you can do per day.