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EU rules could wipe out hospital MRI scans


11 June, 2007  

New European Union (EU) safety guidelines could seriously limit the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners in hospitals, say scientists.

The European Society of Radiology says the limits set in the new EU Physical Agents Directive are impractical as they would be routinely exceeded by hospital staff working with MRI scanners.

“The values described in the directive would be exceeded in every use of MRI,” says Gabriel Krestin from Erasmus University in the Netherlands.

“We would have to use other forms of scanning, such as X-rays, which are known to be harmful. Research would also be severely curtailed, since it is often conducted with much stronger magnetic fields than those used in clinical  practice.”

The EU directive is set to come into effect in April next year but the European Society of Radiology says an exception should be made for MRI scanners.

The limits are primarily intended to protect people working in the electricity and mobile phone industries.

UK research backs up the European Society of Radiology’s results.