Europe gets reprieve on restrictive MRI legislation

October 26, 2007

The European Commission announced today that it will postpone and amend legislation that would pose a serious threat to the use of MRI in patient care and scientific research.

The European Commission announced today that it will postpone and amend legislation that would pose a serious threat to the use of MRI in patient care and scientific research.

The European Union EMF Directive, adopted by the European parliament in 2004 and set to become national law in April 2008, is to be delayed by four years until April 30, 2012. The delay will allow time for a substantive amendment to be adopted, according to a press release from the Alliance for MRI, a coalition of European parliamentarians, radiology societies and organizations, and patient groups

The future amendment will aim to ensure that limits will not have an adverse effect on the practice of MRI, according to the commission. The commission further recommended that member states stop any progress toward adopting of the current directive.

The legislation is aimed at protecting workers from harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation, such as that emitted by mobile phones and electrical power lines. If implemented, the directive would prevent healthcare staff from assisting or caring for patients during imaging.

It would mean that some patients who cannot be imaged without such tending - if they are young, elderly, frail, or confused - would either be denied imaging or have to undergo alternative procedures such as x-rays.

"MRI is a powerful, noninvasive, and safe diagnostic and research tool," said Dr. Gabriel Krestin, a leading member of the Alliance for MRI. "However, its application often relies crucially on the presence of a healthcare worker or researcher. If the European Commission legislation were implemented, it would almost certainly impact on patient welfare and be a major setback for scientific research, denying patients innovative treatments in the future."

Krestin said the Alliance looks forward to working with the European Commission to amend the directive and that any new legislation must be evidence-based and founded on sound science.

For more from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:

Commission poised to delay rule that could suffocate MRI use in Europe

Europeans scramble to thwart threshold law for electromagnetics

ESR must flex its muscles to get heard in Brussels