If you operate an MRI scanner, you probably already know how important it is to monitor your MRI’s helium level. It is not worth it to go too low and risk a magnet quench. As a provider of MRI service, we've seen the worst-case quench scenario play out: a complete refill, ramping the magnet back up to field, hiring experienced engineers, and two to three days of down time and missed patients. In some cases, a quench can cost an imaging facility $50,000!
To help you avoid all that unpleasantness, we'll share when to schedule your next helium fill from the OEM recommendations of some of the most common MRI scanners around.
The recommendations below are intended to give you a bit of a time cushion. If your system is near these levels, there's no need to panic, but it is time to contact your helium provider and get a fill on the calendar as soon as they can. If your exact model isn't on this list, it may be time to dig back in your files for your system manuals. Most recommendations fall somewhere between 50 and 60% overall helium level.
- GE Excite MRI: 58%
- Philips Intera MRI: 50%
- Siemens Symphony MRI: 60%
- Toshiba Vantage 1.5T: 55%
Right now, helium supplies are low and openings of new facilities to increase availability are still in progress (see more details on the shortage here). With this shortage in effect, end users are currently paying around $30 a liter for helium.
Additionally, in some areas of the country, it may take longer to get a helium fill scheduled based on your provider. If you have experienced longer than normal wait times for helium fills in your area, you may want to schedule your next fill before the target percentage.
Keeping your MRI machine within safe helium parameters requires vigilance, proactivity, and regular monetary expense, but it sure beats the cost and general disarray that can result from a magnet quench. If you're in need of a provider to help you with fills, service, or more efficient equipment, we can help with all three. Use the button below to tell us what you need.
And- to learn more about how you can care for your MRI's helium percentage during the shortage, check out our earlier post: 4 Tips for Enduring the Helium Shortage in Medical Imaging