MRI safety reminder: Cloth can be a fire hazard

Using cloth containing copper fibers during an MRI can result in a fire, as explained in a recent case report published by Radiology. The authors wrote their analysis about a specific incident that took place in August 2016 on a PET/MR imaging system that had just been installed the following year. The patient, a 61-year-old woman, was not harmed.

“The incident was not noticed until the end of the PET/MR imaging acquisition because the blanket was smoldering without flames, and also because the patient happened to have chronic loss of smell and did not notice a burnt odor in the room,” wrote lead author Didier Dormont, MD, PhD, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, France, and colleagues. “This incident could have had dramatic consequences if the patient had not been protected by the 50-cm long restraining strap between her and the blanket.”

A total of 881 clinical exams had previously been performed on the same piece of equipment without any adverse incident. The fire damaged the antenna and inner shell of the equipment.

“Material safety investigation revealed that these copper fibers were used by the blanket manufacturer during the automatic process of blanket cutting and remained within the blanket hem,” the authors wrote. “Noticeably, this technique does not appear to be specific to our manufacturer and was also used by other companies. Systematic inspection of older blankets at our hospital did not reveal the presence of copper fibers because this technique of production was recently implemented.”

The blanket manufacturer was informed about the presence of copper fibers, Dormont et al. added, and the company changed its process to avoid this from happening again.