ACR issues guidance on MR use for COVID-19 patients

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The American College of Radiology (ACR) has recommended that practitioners minimize the use of MR for patients with COVID-19 or those suspected of being infected unless it is necessary.

The ACR recommends that all nonurgent or nonemergent exams be postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also offered additional guidance on cleaning, masks, and more.

With respect to MR room cleaning and disinfecting, general guidelines call for 60 minutes of scanner downtime followed by the specific facility's cleaning protocol. Approved cleaning agents should be used to clean all visible surfaces by using a clockwise, linear, top-to-bottom pattern of cleaning on all visible surfaces. Local guidelines, policies, and specific clinical needs can temper this guidance.

Before patients are brought to the radiology department, they should be fitted with MR-safe masks or respirators if they were wearing surgical masks with metal strips. If this is not possible, metal components should be removed from the mask prior to entering the MR area. Tape can be used to keep the mask in place after the metal is removed.

The ACR discourages the use of MRI exams on patients wearing non-MR conditional masks. If necessary, specific absorption rate values may be lowered, radiofrequency transmissions durations may be shortened, and cool-down periods may be introduced between scans to minimize the risk to patients.

Additionally, healthcare workers shouldn't bring powered air-purifying respirators into zone IV of the MRI suite due to potential adverse reactions. Healthcare workers also should ensure that the personal protective equipment they wear doesn't have any potentially ferromagnetic components, like staples or metallic band inserts. If so, these components should be removed and replaced with tape.

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