Avoid MRI scans on COVID-19 Patients Unless Necessary

April 13, 2020

American College of Radiology recommends only using MRI in necessary circumstances.

You shouldn’t perform MRI scan on patients who test positive for COVID-19 or those who are suspected of being infected.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) issued this guidance on the use of magnetic resonance imaging last week. The College recommends radiologists only use this type of imaging in COVID-19 positive patients when it’s absolutely necessary. Any other MRI studies should be delayed.

“In some cases, the use of alternative imaging methods, such as point-of-care or portable imaging may be appropriate,” according to the ACR published guidance. “As with all imaging, the impact of the results of the imaging must potentially affect imminent clinical management.”

The ACR also published additional guidance:

Guidance for Cleaning: Although the actual instructions and strategies for cleaning and disinfection MRI machines will vary by location and the availability of personal protective equipment, the ACR recommends 60 minutes of down-time between patients and after all surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned.

Personal Protection Equipment: Do not bring powered air-purifying ventilators into Zone IV. There are potential adverse interaction risks with the MRI’s ferromagnetic components. Overall, the ACR suggest side-stepping the risk by making sure the personal protective equipment doesn’t contain any magnetic components. If magnetic components are present, providers should remove them and temporarily replace them with tape.

Masks: For inpatients who have metal strips their masks, fit them with MRI-safe alternatives before bringing them to the radiology department. In situations where doing so isn’t possible, be sure to remove the metallic strip from the face mask before bringing them into the imaging suite. When possible, substitute the strips with tape.