Important MRI Safety Updates for 2018

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By Tobias Gilk, MArch, MRSO, MRSE, HSDQ

“I want to be respectful of your time…”

You usually hear those words in a meeting as the speaker realizes that you’ve realized that they’re already running over. I’m hoping we can use it in another context.

There are talks about MRI safety nearly every year at the AHRA Annual Meeting, and yes, some of that material is a healthy repeat or reminder of things you may have heard before. In light of that, it may be tough to rationalize allocating some of your very limited AHRA time to another MRI safety talk, when there are so many engaging sessions being offered. But 2018 is quite a bit different than many prior years, because of a number of recent changes:

  • The FDA recently approved 7.0 Tesla MRI for clinical use.
  • CMS recently approved reimbursement for MR exams of patients with conventional (not MRI-labeled) pacemakers.
  • New MR-Linacs are popping up at research and academic medical centers around the world.
  • The Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI) now wants sites to design MRI installations based on a patient acuity / interventional classification system.
  • More than 1,000 individuals now have MR Safety Board Certification!

It’s sometimes hard to notice as it’s happening, but the ground is shifting beneath our feet. That MRI safety talk from a couple years ago may have been great, but it alone isn’t going to help you prepare for or respond to the tectonic changes that are underway. As imaging professionals with responsibility for MRI safety amid the plethora of new equipment, sitings, and clinical usages, respecting these changes by staying in front of them is an integral part of our duty.

This is a ‘trust me’ moment… lagging behind (when sending sicker patients into stronger magnets, with riskier implants, for greater levels of intervention) is not where any of us want to be. If it’s been a few years – or even if MRI safety has been one of your regular AHRA Annual Meeting stops – the breadth of recent changes warrants a fresh look at these issues.

Let’s have these conversations. Let’s talk about your policies and procedures. Let’s talk about the clinical ‘scope creep’ that may have snuck in while you weren’t looking (and how a room built for diagnostic imaging is now doing image-guided breast biopsies). Let’s talk about the time, energy,  and effort that staff spend on researching implants and devices. Let’s break down the MRI risks into more manageable ‘bite sized’ pieces, and tackle them one at a time.

If you can, please join me and my partner-in-crime, Robert Junk, on Tuesday, July 24, for “Magnets, Cryogens, and RF, Oh My! An MRI Safety 2018 Update,” from 4:15 PM to 5:45 PM, at the AHRA Annual Meeting in Orlando (which just so happens to coincide with MRI Safety Week!). If you do, we promise we’ll be respectful of your valuable AHRA-time, and provide you with as much interesting content as we can squeeze into 90 minutes.

And if you can’t join us, please have these conversations outside those 90 minutes in late July, with us or with other MRI safety resources. There’s simply too much happening to let this one slide.

Tobias Gilk, M.Arch, MRSO, MRSE, HSDQ is the senior VP at RAD-Planning and founder of Gilk Radiology Consultants. He can be reached at


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