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Is Going Green Giving Your MRI Scanner Image Artifacts?

By Stephen Loomis

Pretty much everyone can agree that using energy more efficiently is a good thing. What some of us may differ on is the best way to get this done. When it comes to the lighting in your MRI scanner suite, however, it seems there is a wrong way and a right way. We want to share this distinction with you so that your facility can improve its energy efficiency without experiencing side effects in the quality of its service.
The Wrong Way
We recently received a service call from a facility that needed the light bulbs changed in their MRI suite. When I mentioned this to the field service engineer (FSE) who handles the facility’s maintenance, he cautioned me about which kinds of light bulbs to use.
I learned that many sites are swapping their traditional, incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) in an effort to be more environmentally friendly and to cut energy costs. That makes sense, right? After all, many of us have done the exact same thing in our own homes and businesses. Unfortunately, what works for us in our houses or at the office is not so good in an MRI suite. CFLs in this setting can cause noise artifacts in an image.
The MRI engineer went on to say that, in several recent cases, he has been able to eliminate image noise artifacts simply by swapping out the CFL bulbs the site had installed for the older incandescent bulbs they had only just removed.
The Right Way
So, does this mean that MRI users must resign themselves to sticking with their old, lower-efficiency incandescent bulbs? Not at all – there is a third lighting option that is green, reduces utility bills, and won’t cause noise artifacts in your images: LED bulbs.
LED bulbs will cost more up front but, overall, are greener and cheaper than either incandescent or CFL bulbs. They burn longer, they use less power, and they don’t contain mercury (like a CFL bulb).
If your energy costs are higher than you would prefer, updating your lighting can be a long-term solution. However, if you have already made the switch and you find that your MRI system is experiencing noise artifacts in its images, take a look at the type of bulbs you installed in your MRI suite. If you have CFLs, the problem could be related. Try swapping them out with incandescent (better) or LED (best) bulbs to solve the issue.
Stephen Loomis is the Service Account Executive at Block Imaging. He loves to help imaging facilities maximize their uptime. Outside the office, he is a husband, musician, and unique footwear aficionado.