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

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

Although the majority of IMEDCO customers purchase MR equipment directly from the OEM, Krachon is aware of several used equipment vendors that stand out from the rest. These vendors have their own site planning departments and can provide all the magnet’s site planning support information that is needed.

On the other hand, the sellers that don’t have access to those resources will rely on the shield vendor’s support. That means they will be taking on more responsibilities, such as passive magnetic shield modeling, and uncovering potential MR interference issues like proximity to transformers and large, moving ferrous masses.

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Start the planning process off on the right foot
The next step is to decide what type of shielding your site requires. Magnetic shielding is often forgotten about in the early planning stages, and although not every site will need it, it’s still an important consideration.

If the five-gauss line is contained within the MR room or a controlled place, the site won’t need this type of shielding, according to Turner. In addition, if the magnet is centered and the room is between 18 and 20 feet wide, then magnetic shielding won’t be needed on the side walls.

“More often than not, it's the rear of the MR that is a concern for magnetic shielding,” said Turner. “If possible, the architect should try to design the equipment room to be placed behind the MR suite. That way, they control the access to that space. It’s ok, then, if five gauss is there, it’s controlled space and they’ve eliminated the need for magnetic shielding.”

He added that every site is going to need RF shielding, unless it’s incorporated into the bore of the magnet, which is typically only the case in an MR used for research purposes. An RF shield must always be a six-sided enclosure, even if your MR suite is going to be in the basement.

Once you know what type of shielding you need, you will need to develop a clear rigging plan for getting the magnet and shielding materials into the space. Newman has worked with facilities that didn’t have a plan for that and he had to make accommodations in his materials to get them through the building.

Those accommodations can involve lugging the materials up stairs instead of having an elevator. He also often must work with customers on the path of the cryogen vent inside and outside the building to ensure there aren’t any issues.

If you have an existing RF shield and plan to upgrade or replace your MR unit, the planning process will be much different. The shield must be recertified, and an RF baseline test has to be conducted to show that the shield meets the new performance levels of the equipment, or upgrade before it can be installed.

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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