MRI

MRI safety is a very important topic.  MRI scanning is performed with a very strong magnetic field and radiofrequency pulses.  Both of these present potential dangers to patients with certain implants.

When you think about a magnet, you probably think about magnets you may have played with or used in school when you were a child.  You also might think about the magnets you have hanging on your refrigerator.  The magnetic field strength of these magnets is around 100 gauss (gauss is a measurement of magnetic field strength).  The magnet for the open scanner at Lexington Diagnostic Center of 6,000 gauss and the high field magnet is 15,000 gauss. This gives you an idea of just how strong these magnets are why we ask you so many questions about what you have inside or even outside of your body!

Earlier, it was mentioned that radiofrequency pulses also present potential dangers.  When RF is deposited into your body, it causes heating.  This isn’t a danger to you unless you have something inside you that has the potential to heat up and cause burns.

When you tell us that you have an implant, we need to know exactly which type and brand of implant you have.  We then check with our resources such as www.MRIsafety.com or the manufacturer to find out if the implant is safe, unsafe or can be scanned safely under certain conditions.  The conditions will tell us how strong the magnet can be and how much heat we can deposit into your body.  This is very important information to keep you from harm!

Why do we ask you the questions so many times?  I will share a true story.  One time, I had a patient that I was about to walk through the doorway into the MRI room.  I asked the patient one more time about implants and even after she had been asked about a pacemaker 2 other times, she told me she had a pacemaker!  She told me that she decided it must be important for me to know since we had asked so many times!  At that time, all pacemakers were unsafe for MRI and if we had scanned her, it could have had disastrous results for her.

We also need to make sure there is nothing outside of your body, under your clothing, in your hair, in a pocket or even in your hand that is attracted to the magnet.  An item as small as a paperclip can reach 40 miles per hour on its way into the magnet.  Not only can it damage the equipment, it will injure anyone it comes in contact with on its way into the magnet.

Please be patient with us while we do everything we can to keep you safe.  At Lexington Diagnostic Center, your safety is our number one priority.

Radiation

Radiation safety is an important topic.  Radiation is used to produce images in x-ray, CT, DXA and Nuclear Medicine.  At Lexington Diagnostic Center, we use the ALARA principle when using radiation.  ALARA stands for As Low As Reasonably Achievable.  Simply put, we use the lowest dose possible to obtain high quality, diagnostic images.

This concept is especially important in infants and children whose bodies are still developing and susceptible to radiation exposure.  We have pledged to image gently (www.imagegently.org) when performing studies for infants and children.  There is a lot of information on the image gently website that parents might find useful when considering a radiation producing study for their child.

We have also pledged to image wisely (www.imagewisely.org) when performing radiation producing studies for adults.  The image wisely website also has a lot of valuable information for patients.