ACR: Helium shortage not an issue for imaging providers

The world’s helium shortage became a hot topic in the last week, with mainstream news outlets such as Forbes, USA Today and CNN all reporting on the issue. Considering how important the element is to maintaining MRI scanners, is this something that could have a negative impact on imaging providers?

According to the American College of Radiology (ACR), helium may be rare, but there’s no reason for radiologists—or any healthcare providers, for that matter—to be worried at this point in time.  

“The helium shortage hasn’t necessarily been an issue we’ve heard much about since 2013 or so,” Dustin Gress, MS, the ACR’s senior advisor for medical physics, told Radiology Business in a phone interview. “Helium is a finite natural resource, of course, but it hasn’t hit the level of urgency where the ACR is expressing concern about it.”

Gress explained that the world did experience a significant helium shortage in 2012, one that led to higher costs across the board. The impact of those higher prices is still being felt by laboratories and research facilities with smaller budgets. But as far as the ACR is concerned, he says they “haven’t heard any comments from our membership, partnership organizations or vendors” about any new shortage that could cause problems.

“We do emphasize the importance of preserving natural resources,” Gress added. “But in terms of impacting radiology practices today, there’s nothing new to report.”