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RF shielding considerations in the MR suite

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | September 15, 2021
From the September 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“These scenarios are what add risk to the accuracy of the costs of shield modifications and the required time to have the shield ready for the new MR,” said Krachon. “Working with a shield vendor that will provide a realistic estimate and identify the associated risks will help you weigh the cost of these repairs against the cost of replacement.”

This is especially true when bringing in a new MR system or a magnet from a different vendor. In such cases, it is almost always best to replace the shield, says Villa. “Each MR has different requirements for items including electrical panels, quench pipe and magnetic shielding.”

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Keep an eye on the door
The most common culprit of shielding damage is the door, as it is the only moving part of the shield. While simple to maintain, providers often neglect this component, which, over time, is worn down by constantly being opened and closed.

“Doors do require periodic cleaning, adjustment and gasket replacement to maintain the specified performance,” said Matt Boesel, division manager of RF Shielding at PDC Facilities. “If the door has an automatic feature that uses compressed air, the air delivery system will require periodic preventive maintenance.”

Door compressors can be maintained by checking for water content and double-checking lines. It also is best to avoid bumping objects into the door and its frame such as transporters and tables, as these can create dents that can alter positioning and disrupt performance. If not carefully maintained, doors are often unsalvageable and will need to be replaced, along with the frame at times. It also is wise to check any windows in the room to see if they have incurred any damage.

Recapping key points
Knowing what goes into any shielding project starts with consulting shielding vendors and using their expertise, especially when installing or repairing a shield for the first time, according to Krachon. "I can only encourage people, when they realize there is an MR upgrade or addition as part of a project that is in the planning stages, to get involved with one or two experienced shield suppliers right away and use them as a resource, so the right questions and information can be given to the entire design team and an accurate scope can be identified for everyone. This will go a long way to set the correct expectations regarding scheduling and pricing, and also to understand the risks.”

Determining whether to replace or repair a shield comes down to many factors. But it ultimately starts with an RF test. “If the test indicates that the room is not performing to specification, but the location of the RF leaks can be identified, the majority of the time the RF shielding is repaired and reused. If the leaks cannot be located or the repair cost is too high, a new RF shield installation is advisable,” said Boesel.

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