Southern African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia

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Anaesthesia in the MRI suite

Reinier Swart, William Ian Duncombe Rae


Anaesthesia in the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suite, or when performing surgery that requires MRI guidance, is becoming a more frequent and complex procedure for anaesthetists, as the study modality is increasing in application. MRI is not inert in its ability to do harm and may interfere with the anaesthetist’s ability to assess the patient and intervene in the event of emergencies. Strong superconducting magnets can affect the physical environment and present unseen yet pertinent dangers, which may be avoided through awareness and vigilance. A culture of safety and collaboration in the radiology department, an area that is often remote from the usual milieu that anaesthetic providers are comfortable with, is essential to preventing serious injury or death to both patients and staff. It is therefore an important domain of knowledge and expertise for an anaesthetist. This article also describes some of the difficulties occasionally apparent only to the anaesthetic provider, which warrants anaesthetists’ involvement in the planning and layout of MRI suites.

Keywords: anaesthesia, emergencies in MRI, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), MRI safety, radiology

AJOL African Journals Online