Technology has been on a rapid growth over the years. Technological advancements have made daily that have changed the lives of many people. The rise and growth of a technical world has led to various advantages and disadvantages to human life. On the extreme ends, it saves lives and may lead to the loss of lives themselves. The medical sector has not been left behind when making these advancements. This can be seen through the various changes and developments in the industry. One major technological improvement is the introduction of medical imaging through the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This is a technological advancement medically that helps to detect any forms of anomalies and also to scan patients for any forms of illnesses. As the name suggests, this type of technology uses a magnet. The technology has brought a huge boost to the health sector. However, a few cases where the use of the MRI technology has dealt the health of patients a blow have been witnessed. This paper will focus on the impact of the introduction of MRI technology to the health sector. It will focus on the various advantages that the technology has brought. It will also discuss the demerits of using the MRI technology. This will thus give a backing for the discussion of ways to that the MRI can be used safely to avoid and minimize any possible adverse health effects. By so doing many lives will be saved without placing many lives at health risks thus reaping maximally from the technology.
The Magnetic Fields and the Influence on Objects near Them
In order to understand the Magnetic Resonance Imaging, it is important to discuss magnets, magnetic fields and their effects on objects around them. This gives a rudimentary know-how of the functionality of the MRI. This is most important because the content of the MRI is majorly a magnet weighing about. 10,000 pounds. Studying a magnet, therefore, gives a clear picture of the MRI. From the basic knowledge of magnetism, magnets create a force on certain objects. Objects that are attracted by magnets are called ferromagnetic materials. Some of the ferromagnetic materials include metals that contain nickel, iron and cobalt. Most of the metals contain this three materials thus making most of the metals magnetic.
For all magnets there exists a magnetic field around them. This field varies in strength depending on the strength of the magnet. When an object that is non-magnetic, does not contain iron or nickel or cobalt, then there would be no effect on the object. It will not be attracted. A different case is witnessed for magnetic materials. When a magnetic material is placed in the field of a magnet, then it becomes magnetized. The object receives an opposite polarity and is attracted towards the magnet. This is the general behavior of all objects near the magnet. When a magnetic material is hidden or covered by nonmagnetic materials, then it is important to note that the magnetic material will still be attracted towards the magnet. The MRI magnet is a very powerful magnet. It will, therefore, magnetize any magnetic materials around and attract it. With its high power, it can cause a projectile and even a missile effect. This projectile will lead to dangerous and harmful effects such as life-threatening accidents.
Importance of Safety around the MRI Scanner
There are some dangerous health hazards when working around the MRI scanners. Health workers such as nurses and doctors are the ones at a huge risk of getting affected by these defects. Therefore, this section will look at the various hazards that come with working around the MRI scanners and as a result, attempt to offer precautionary measures to mitigate these risks. From a study conducted over a period on nurses working near the MRI scanners, it was proved that some nurses developed complications. These health complications were attributed to having begun or have been aggravated by the strength of magnet in the MRI (Wilen, 2011). Therefore it is important to follow some safety practices to reduce these complications.
The first precaution is to bar or advice pregnant staff members of the hospital from accessing the inner control area. This is because the magnetic field is too strong and will surely affect both the woman and the fetus. This should be even stricter during their first trimester of the pregnancy. Another precaution that is rather obvious, is that all entrants into the control room must enter without any magnetic materials with them. This means that all metals and objects with metallic objects must be stripped off. This should be emphasized since the room is magnet is always on. Another safety precaution that should be observed is that health officers with metallic implants must not be allowed near the MRI scanners as it will be a huge health detriment to them. There should also be a rotation of health workers working in that area as it will reduce exposure to the magnetic field. There are suits designed to offer an amount of protection for people working there. These suits should always be worn when working in the area. As a reminder to all health workers, each health center with MRI scanners should draft and put out all the rules that pertain to working around or near the MRI scanners. These are some of the precautions that must be followed when working near around the MRI scanners.
Safety Guidelines around the MRI
The previous section majored on the importance of safety when working around the MRI scanners. Few precautions were mentioned. However, in this section, the focus is to discuss in detail the various guidelines towards achieving safe practice when working near the MRI. First and foremost, all health centers and research centers that have MRI, must maintain magnetic resonance safety policies. This is regardless of the strength of the magnetic field. Best practice in all industries calls for continuous review and revision of policies. For the safety of those working near the MRI scanners, it is important to keep reviewing the policies on safety making the necessary adjustments if any. Continuous assessment and review will optimize the safety levels, and this will reduce even further the risk of health hazards and other accidents that maybe would have occurred. Local guidelines should also be established. However, in establishing local guidelines care should be taken. Local guidelines should be established after experts have recommended and consultations done. This will surely reduce redundancy while at the same time optimizing a safe environment.
Yet another safety measure to be taken by each health or research center is the appointment of an MR medical director. This individual will be responsible for two key roles. The first one is that the director will be responsible for establishing MR safety guidelines and behavior. The other responsibility they have is to ensure that those safety guidelines are reviewed and updated to fit the current requirements. Their other role is to ensure that the safety guidelines are followed by all. Procedures and safety guidelines also indicate that it is proper practice to report as soon as possible any adverse effects or near adverse incidents (MR Research, 2007). These are some of the most important rules that lead to a safer MRI centers.
Precautions when Dealing with Patients
The MRI scanner is a tool that produces a three-dimensional image of the patient’s interior organs (Gould,2008). In this regard, it is quite an important tool in diagnostics. It can show the various problems vividly which may have taken a lot of trouble to be detected or would have gone undetected. It is, therefore, a timely and dependable invention in the medical industry. However, this comes bearing certain hindrances among the patients. There are certain patients who require a lot of care when using the MRI lest they become worse. Certain precautions have to be put in place when dealing with patients of this nature. This will surely help to get the maximum good from the MRI and minimum damages. This section will focus on those precautions taking each special case into consideration. The first condition to be discussed is a situation where the patients are women who are expectant. The magnetic field has an effect on the fetus, and therefore pregnant women should not be allowed into the screening area. More importantly, during their first trimester of pregnancy, patients who are pregnant should not use the MRI.
The next batch of patients are those patients with surgical implants. Examples of these implants are: penile implants, cochlear implants, neurostimulators, cardiac pacemakers and pain control pumps. When a patient with a cardiac stimulator goes for an MRI screening, then he is at risk of a heart attack. This may happen since the interaction of the electromagnetic field of the MRI scanner and the cardiac pacemaker will lead to failure of the pacemaker. For penile and cochlear implants, interaction with the magnetic field from the MR will lead to them being displaced. Another important thing to look at is whether the patient has tattoos or a transdermal patch. This may lead to burns when in the MRI room. Care should be taken when handling these patients.
In conclusion, technology is moving fast into all sectors and with it comes very many advantages. However, we cannot turn a blind eye to some of the harmful effects that come with advanced technology. One part of the technology that has really enhanced the medical field is the introduction of MRI screening. This type of screening involves the use of a powerful magnet. It helps in producing a three dimension picture of the internal organs thus helping a lot with diagnostics. There are also several harmful effects that come from using the MRI. In order to understand these effects, it is important to first understand the rudimentary of any magnet. Their exits ferromagnetic materials which contain iron, nickel and cobalt. This means that materials that contain these materials are attracted to these magnets.
The MRI contains a huge magnet that is on average a size of 10,000 pounds. Pregnant patients and staff should not be allowed anywhere near the MRI scanner since the magnetic field will affect the fetus ( Joint Commission, 2008). It is important that the very fetus be protected at least for the first trimester. Patients with surgical implants such as penile implants and cochlear implants will face injuries due to displacements when they enter the MRI room. Safety guidelines have to be put in place to reduce these cases. The measures should be reviewed and updated.
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MR Research Facility. (2007). MR Safety. Retrieved March 12, 2008, from http://www.mrc.wayne.edu/safety.htm
Wilén, J., & de Vocht, F. (2011). Health complaints among nurses working near MRI scanners—a descriptive pilot study. European journal of radiology, 80(2), 510-513.
Joint Commission. (2008). Preventing accidents and Injuries in the MRI suite [Sentinel Event Alert], 38. Retrieved from http://www.jointcommission.org/SentinelEvents/SentinelEventAlert/sea_38.htm