July 31, 2001
6:31 AM   Subscribe

MRI machines -- I always knew they were dangerous, though I never imagined how.
posted by dfowler (13 comments total)
Town name: Valhalla.
posted by pracowity at 6:37 AM on July 31, 2001

Whoever left that metal canister sitting around is in a whole heap of trouble. I'm glad to see the hospital taking full responsibility, how often does that happen.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:42 AM on July 31, 2001

It's almost like something out of a Road Runner cartoon -- Wile E. Coyote feeds iron pellets to Road Runner, straps giant electromagnet to self to chase RR, starts getting creamed by every metal object in the world.....cannonballs, safes, ocean liners, satellites...

It really is a tragic event, but it's also just a random accident. Unfortunately, the media never get tired of "man bites dog" stories. I just hope my 15 minutes of fame aren't used up this way.
posted by briank at 7:00 AM on July 31, 2001

How about Dog shoots man?

You have to scroll down the page to see. It's an anchorless old Salon article.
posted by dfowler at 7:31 AM on July 31, 2001

I was just in an MRI machine yesterday. Nearly a half an hour of wondering "what exactly is this humming thumping mass of machinery actually doing to me?" All while having to lie still and suppress a cough. They made me remove all metal from my person beforehand. Guess I'm glad I did.
posted by kokogiak at 8:42 AM on July 31, 2001

This article just screams lawsuit doesn't it?
posted by Mark at 8:50 AM on July 31, 2001

They're hoping to avoid the lawsuit by admitting liability and essentially offering the patient's families whatever they want.
posted by kindall at 10:18 AM on July 31, 2001

We'll see how long that lasts. The hospital must have insurance, and the insurance company is not going to just fork over cash. It will have to be litigated IMHO.
posted by Outlawyr at 10:48 AM on July 31, 2001

Last year an MRI machine snatched a gun from a policeman's holster. The gun discharged when it hit. And they're finding all sorts of crap inside MRI machines, suggesting that greater care needs to be taken.

Many MRI installations are not in hospitals, or even doctor's offices, but private for-profit clinics operated as subsidiaries. (Though perhaps the chance of bringing non-compatible equipment into an MRI is greater at a hospital, while a small clinic could only buy, for example, aluminum equipment.)
posted by dhartung at 5:58 PM on July 31, 2001

From one of the article dhartung linked

The weapon is out of service. Benwitz said firing the weapon was too risky because its molecular structure might have been altered.

"Until we send this gun back to the factory, we're not even going to test-fire it," he said. "The metal is more brittle than it should be."

SO if an MRI can alter the molecular composition of a gun, what exactly is it doing to my body? I'd imagine that its just the police officer not understanding chemistry too well, but still...
posted by nathan_teske at 6:27 PM on July 31, 2001

"SO if an MRI can alter the molecular composition of a gun, what exactly is it doing to my body?"

Is your body made of metal?
posted by CrayDrygu at 7:16 PM on July 31, 2001

what if you have braces or fillings or metal pins implanted by aliens?
posted by th3ph17 at 7:43 PM on July 31, 2001

As a former respiratory therapist this one makes me cringe -- Oxygen and breathing are our business. Truly tragic.

Before you go into the vicinity of one of these you remove everything metal - stethoscopes, pens, wrenches, jewelry, watches, earrings - if you have metal on your shoes, that has to come off and you get booties. (example pt. ed page)If you're wearing a belt - that's off too. The ones I have been near made this abundantly clear - everyone knows! Who wants an earring to be ripped from their ear toward the MRI - which is a GIGANTIC electromagnet. (Note: electromagnet is just a magnet whose power is enhanced with electricity - it's a fridge magnet times millions).

Oh, they also usually ask you if you've ever done metalwork - because people who have done metalwork tend to have microparticles of metal in their corneas. How's that for a terrible thought?

Anyway - when I was an RT - we had specific aluminum tanks and special equipment for doing transports down there. ALSO - usually they have years and yards of the clear oxygen tubing that they can feed toward the machine if someone needs oxygen. There should be no reason for there to be an Oxygen tank in the vicinity of that machine.

And as for the hospital - probably several people deserve to get fired. I'm not working in medicine now - but this is probably a giant wake-up call for a lot of people. It'll be interesting to see what the follow-ups for this are.

This is a pretty good link on the topic -- it actually says: . It is strong enough to pull heavy-duty floor buffers and mop buckets into the bore of the magnet, pull stretchers across the room and turn oxygen bottles into flying projectiles. Deaths have occurred from trauma as a result of these effects. Smaller objects such as phones, pagers, bobby pins and pens have been known to be pulled off the person carrying them.

Truly awful. My heart goes out to that family.
posted by artlung at 8:22 PM on July 31, 2001

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