“Flying” vacuum cleaners are among hazards in MRI suites

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 18 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:357
  1. David Spurgeon
  1. Quebec

    A study from Texas shows that potentially lethal incidents are occurring in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suites in US hospitals when ferromagnetic nitrous oxide or oxygen tanks are attracted to the magnet with such force they become projectiles.

    Other large objects drawn into the imaging equipment include a defibrillator, a wheelchair, a respirator, ankle weights, a tool box, a vacuum cleaner, and mop buckets.

    The authors of the study, from the University of Texas, believe it likely that such incidents are under-reported and that they may be increasing. They studied incidents at two academic institutions from 1985 to 2000 and reported on five of these (American Journal of Radiology 2001;177:27-30).

    “To our knowledge, these are the first reports of projectile cylinder tank accidents and incidents in [magnetic resonance] imaging involving equipment used for life support,” said the authors.

    Other reports include a death caused by torquing of an aneurysm clip (Radiology 1993; 187:855-6), and five deaths possibly related to inadvertent scanning of patients with cardiac pacemakers (Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging 2000;12:2-19).

    Human error and failure to follow safety policies were cited as common causes of the accidents. The authors propose controlled entry to imaging facilities.

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