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class="style16"> Shooting In An MRI Environment (Varicam shoot)

Published : 21st September 2009


Any horror stories about shooting in an MRI room. I will be sure to put a fresh tape in when I go in the room, and I am thinking there is a lot of shielding around a MRI unit, but thought it would be a good idea to check in with the "war story" front in CML.


Cheers,


Russell Gienapp
DOP Toronto, Canada



It's a monster electro magnet. Not only is it probably really bad for your camera, I'm quite sure that it would be highly dangerous for the patient to have you in the room. A year or two ago someone was killed in an MRI machine when a metal canister was left loose in a room and it was sucked into the machine. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and be on the other side of the window when the machine is running.


Mitch Gross
NYC DP/TD
Abel Cine Tech



Just looked at my post and saw a flaw in the wording. I meant the room next to the actual MRI equipment. I did know it was an electromagnet of monster proportions and I assumed that I would not be allowed to be in the same room as the patient while the scanning was being done. ( Though after reading the article that Brian posted, you never know ) But, good electromagnetic advice nonetheless about being in the room with an active machine doing an exam.


My concern was the field that would surround such a monster would be equally large and not knowing how well shielded the exam rooms are, just wanted to know if anyone had a, "I was shooting in a room next to a MRI, and..." story that I should be aware of. Pretty sure the MRI techs will keep me from hurting their patients or equipment, but may not be aware of something that could damage tapes or Varicams. Guess I will just have to ask a lot of questions at the hospital and err on the side of caution.


Russell Gienapp
DOP, Toronto Canada



Russell Gienapp wrote :


>> My concern was the field that would surround such a monster would be equally large and not knowing >>how well shielded the exam rooms are, just wanted to know if anyone had a, "I was shooting in a room >>next to a MRI, and..." story that I should be aware of.


The first thing to ask is: does the hospital have an AV department or someone who regularly does AV work for them. They would be the 'go to' guys to find out about how well shielded adjacent rooms might, or might not, be. If you're unsure, I would test it with something less valuable than a Varicam -- but I've got one for sale cheap if you should need a replacement.


Brian Heller
IA 600 DP



I've shot MRI units for both Kaiser Permanente and Stanford Hospital. We've never actually turned them on, we've only ever faked it. Not sure why you'd need to shoot one live.


Art Adams
Director of Photography
Film | Hidef | Video
San Jose, CA, USA
www.artadams.net
415.760.5167



Art Adams writes:


>>Not? Sure why you'd need to shoot one live.


They're noisy, too. Clank, clank.
Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA



>>I've shot MRI units for both Kaiser Permanente and Stanford Hospital. We've never actually turned them >>on, we've only ever faked it. Not sure why you'd need to shoot one live.


I've done them on Varicam, and went into the exam room and, "faked it" as Art Adams said. They can make the unit look like it is doing the procedure, but not turned on.
Then I'd go into the Technicians Control Room and shoot the actual procedure (live) from behind the glass. Had no problems.


Jim Dollarhide
Director/Cinematographer
http://www.dollarhide.net



Russell Gienapp wrote:


>>My concern was the field that would surround such a monster would be equally large and not knowing >>how well shielded the exam rooms are, just wanted to know if anyone had a, "I was shooting in a room >>next to a MRI,


Fortunately the field should drop off fairly sharply as I think magnetic fields are subject to the inverse-square law (the strength drops as a function of the square of the distance rather than linearly). But I'm not actually sure it would be a problem for the camera--except maybe for the tape transport. The tapes--probably so!


Eric Wenocur
Lab Tech Systems



I absolutely agree with Mitch. I shot one last year in Portland and I was not allowed past the doorway while it was running for fear of injury. Anything that was loose had to be taken away.
And they were very concerned about damaging their machine!!!


Kris Denton
DP
LA



You can't wear a ring, or a necklace, or even have a pierced nipple in an MRI room when the electro-magnet is on. You can't even have a ball point pen. They can all turn into lethal projectiles.


The case of the six-year-old boy who was killed in an MRI machine was in White Plains, NY at the Westchester Medical Center in the summer of 2001. I lived there at the time. His nurses forgot about the metal oxygen canister he was hooked up to, and when they turned on the electro-magnet it turned into a torpedo... Very tragic and senseless.


You should certainly consider it a potentially hazardous environment for any kind of electronic equipment.


Scott Lehane
Journalist
Greater Toronto Area, Canada



Yeah that's about right.


We were fortunate in that two of us managed to get our hands on the camera and wrestle it out the door. It wanted to run up and give that NMR a big kiss in the worst way and the look on the camera tech's face was also priceless later.


I think he was bordering on newbie disgust.
We were idiots.


Jeffery Haas
camera-editor
Mansfield TX



Brian Heller wrote :


>> I've had a couple of MRIs and got curious about all of the warning signs and all of the patient >>precautions, such as, if you work with metal, as I do, you have to have you eyes X-rayed to be sure there >>are no metallic particles stuck in your eyes.


I notice the Simply Physics site is also selling books for MRI technicians, etc. After having one myself I was curious how they worked and found a book the library about medical technology. I can no longer remember the details but it's quite amazing. The magnetism and all the noise is about changing the orientation of certain molecules in the body tissue in a certain way. For someone to have thought of this imaging technique, and made it work, is remarkable!


-- Eric Wenocur
Lab Tech Systems



I have Shot in several MRI rooms they are perfectly safe to shoot in, one thing to remember is that the magnet is always active unless the room is down. However don’t worry too much because you will never be left alone medical staff has to stay with you and the facilities I have been in, there is actually a line close to the doorway, that line represents the magnetic field. That is as far as they will let you go.


Hector Lopez
DP/D.I.T.
Orlando Florida



>>But I'm not actually sure it would be a problem for the camera-- except maybe for the tape transport. The >>tapes--probably so!


---Ohhhh trust me when I tell you it was a problem LOL.


Jeffery Haas
camera-editor
Mansfield, TX



Deep Freeze Video wrote :


>> But I'm not actually sure it would be a problem for the camera--except maybe for the tape transport. The >>tapes--probably so!
>> ---Ohhhh trust me when I tell you it was a problem LOL.


I meant that magnetic fields, per se, would not damage the innards of a camera. Obviously being thrown against the MRI machine, or having internal parts moved around, is bad.


Eric Wenocur



MRI machines vary tremendously in terms of their magnetic strength. Because someone has not had any problems at one MRI facility, does not mean that someone else will not have problems at another.


Brian Heller
IA 600 DP



Russell,


I've shot in an MRI environment. They simply won't let you within two feet of the door with the machine on. In fact they won’t allow the door to be open when that big old magnet gets going. They show you the 2p test as health and safety prep. You hold a coin on the other side of the room as they 'flash' the power. Loud bang, bent coin.


Mock up any shooting inside the room as a 'fakie'. Then go into the protected environment and get the screen images for real together with the wide shots of the whole process through the window.


Mike Costelloe
DoP UK



You actually won't be permitted in the room of an operating MRI unit, nor would you want to be. There is a tremendous amount of shielding around the MRI room, and you will have no issues shooting through the operator's observation window.


Even if you shoot through the open door before the unit is in full use, you will have issues. Your first clue will be when your viewfinder images 'squishes.'


Back up a step and watch it normalize.


Stay away from that squishy viewfinder when the door is open, and shoot through the operator's window, and you won't have any problems.


Joel Schwartzberg
LA/DP



>> MRI machines vary tremendously in terms of their magnetic strength.
>>Because someone has not had any problems at one MRI facility, does not mean that someone else will >>not have problems at another.


Bang-on, Brian - you have to talk to the people at the facility you're shooting in, they are the only ones who will really have the answer.


I have shot inside an MRI room about 7-10 feet from the subject, during an active scan, with no problems (As I moved closer, the viewfinder image showed some RF interference, that was as close as I dared go - footage was fine).


In other MRIs I've only been allowed to shoot through windows (Faraday cage - not the greatest situation shooting through metal mesh, but if the machine is powerful enough that's the only choice you have). I couldn't tell you the difference between those machines, but I'm sure to an MRI professional it would be as obvious as the difference between a Varicam and an SR3 would be to you and me.

George Hupka
Director/DP,Downstream Pictures
Listmum, Cinematography Mailing List
Saskatoon, Canada



>>Because someone has not had any problems at one MRI facility, does not mean that someone else will >>not have problems at another.


In regards to MRI labs every facility has their own guidelines and some will ask you to sign liability wavers. When I shot in MRI labs in New Orleans the techs knew me and trusted me. As a precaution I removed all attached parts from the camera like lens shades, wireless mics etc. I have always had the attitude if the tech says it's safe to stand in a certain spot I'll stand five feet behind that line if I can.


Tom McDonnell, SOC
IATSE 600
New Orleans, LA
Los Angeles, CA
818-675-1501



I have just shot on a 900r in an mri room in New York. The machine was active and we were in the actual room. There was a zone of safety around the mri, in which the magnet had no effect. It was about 6 feet away from the edge of the gurney when out of the machine. The viewfinder freaked out a bit, about a quarter of the picture was lost, but no problems in playback on a monitor outside of the room.


Before we went in, the operator of the mri showed me with the aid of a pair of scissors how the field worked. There is no difference with the machine off or on. The magnet is always on. About 3 feet away from the actual mri machine itself, the scissors had to be held with fingers in the holes, and they were trying to jump out of my hands.


But as you walked away, the magnetic field dropped off substantially. There was no magnetic field in the "camera safe" area within the room.


All metal objects have to be taken off your body though.


STEVE GRAY
Director Of Photography
London
Mob: +44(0)7711 009515
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Skype: maclean31