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Everything you need to consider before embarking on an RF shielding project

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | September 09, 2022
MRI
From the September 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

If this is the first time you’re installing an MR unit, you might not even know what radiofrequency (RF) shielding is, and you wouldn’t be alone in that.

The average healthcare provider is often unaware that an RF shield is needed until someone tells them, according to Howard Newman, vice president of Universal Shielding Corp. A lot of his time is spent educating customers and contractors on the shield’s components and how to properly interact with it.

“We find that the customers who know where the shield is going to be installed and have contractors who know how to work with the shield have the most successful projects,” he said. “But for those that are doing this for the first time, we have no problem holding their hand and by the end of the project, they are ready to hit the ground running on the next job.”

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Mike Krachon, director of marketing and sales at IMEDCO, shares similar experiences. He’s found that unless a hospital and architect have completed multiple shielding projects recently, they often don’t understand the function of the shield and the extent of the coordination required to pull the design together.

“If due diligence is completed early to select a reputable shield vendor by the team, the process is more likely to run smoother,” he added. “This is particularly true in helping the other trades understand and meet the shield requirements and the MR vendor siting requirements.”

Should you get a new or used MR unit?
Your first step is obviously to purchase the MR unit, but having to choose between the OEM and a third-party vendor isn’t so clear cut. Ben Turner, global director of RF shielding sales and operations at NELCO Worldwide, is aware that many facilities are looking for ways to save costs and may opt for a magnet from the secondary market. The downside is that you get less site planning support than if purchased from the OEM.

“A secondary supplier likely has some experience with the system they are providing but are not experts in all aspects of MR siting,” said Turner. “The contractor doesn’t know what he or she doesn’t know, and of course the client is not an expert in siting an MR.”

If you decide to purchase a used MR unit, you must understand the limitations you will face in planning for it. Turner acknowledged that the trade-off might make sense for some, but maybe not for others.

According to Newman, some of those limitations involve not having access to the magnetic shielding calculations and having to ensuring that components such as base plates, shim plates or penetration panels are delivered with the magnet. That last part is especially important if the MR is obtained from another imaging site.
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Steven Ford

Misinformation in your RF shield planning story

September 14, 2022 11:06

It's certainly not true that if the MRI magnet 5g line is inside the RF room, then magnetic shielding is of no concern. Every MRI manufacturer warns against moving large steel masses relatively far away from the magnet (such as trains and elevators) that can damage the image quality and may require magnetic shielding to mitigate.

Likewise, making generalizations about OEM vs. independent service providers is not always accurate. OEMs make mistakes and take shortcuts, too. We've corrected many problems that were created by OEM providers and their planners and contractors.

Clinics and hospitals who are trying to learn about MRI planning and RF shields are well-advised to find a trusted MRI partner who can give them personalized advice. They should avoid any provider who does not make a trip to the site early in the process to confirm that the site is suitable for an MRI.

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