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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

With any RF shield installation or repair, providers should know how old the RF shield is and if the new shield is identical to the existing one, according to Walter Bernschneider, sales manager of MRI-Systems. Costs and timelines for shielding projects are also important to address in the beginning, starting with the consultations right through to the installation itself.

The emergence of stronger and bigger scanners, as well as compact and mobile ones, has also affected installations, according to Jean Michel (JM) Paré, director of marketing and business development at SDI Canada.

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“For bigger scanners such as 7T MRs, the room needs to be bigger, which represents challenges for the MR suite's location,” he said. “This increases the need for a magnetic shield to ensure safety around the MR area. Also, because of the increase in size and weight of the magnet, structural capacity of the building and delivery path can be critical. On the other hand, compact and mobile scanners will require a different approach as access and configuration of the room will be more critical.”

Replace vs. repair
As shields age, wear and tear will take their toll. Determining if a shield can be repaired or needs replacing starts with an RF test, says Joel Kellog, marketing communications for ETS-Lindgren.

“In many cases, the performance will have degraded a bit due to lack of maintenance of items like doors. In these cases, it can be quickly determined that the room could be reused,” he said. “However, in some cases the rooms may have suffered significant degradation in performance and it may be difficult to identify the root cause, as so much of the shield is covered by interior finishes. In these cases, it may be more advantageous to simply replace the shielding.”

An RF test should be performed every three-to-five years to assess current performance and detect any unnoticed damage such as leaks. Shields may be prone to water damage such as from leaky pipes, roofs and unexpected flooding in, around or over the MR suite.

Lack of maintenance or abuse of the RF entry doors is also a common problem, according to the experts. Items or options added after the shield was originally installed can also compromise the RF integrity and require repair.

After the test is completed, a recommendation is made concerning what remediation, outside the anticipated new magnet component configurations, may be required. It may not always be possible to make such adjustments without describing a number of contingencies, since correcting all RF compromises at the same time is often prohibitive. Some remediation may require several iterations if a single compromise, such as a severely leaking door, may mask others.

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