A man in India has passed away after he was mistakenly sent into a room holding a metal oxygen tank while the MRI was still active. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machines are some of the most powerful magnetic devices in the world and are used to acquire images of soft materials that otherwise wouldn’t show up on an x-ray. MRI machines would via magnetic forces and can generate a tremendous force on metal objects.
Horror stories include piercings being ripped from the body, aneurism clips in the brain being sheered away from the arteries they were holding together, pacemakers being deactivated, objects hurling across the room and striking people in the vicinity and (perhaps worst of all) metal fragments in the eye being torn through the vitreous jelly.
What we’re trying to say is this; MRI machines are seriously powerful magnets that could cause a computer to go flying across a room poltergeist style. As a result the number one rule that hospitals use when dealing with MRI machines is no metal in the room, whatsoever, while it is turned on.
Unfortunately, this week we were given a demonstration of what happens when this rule is not followed when Rajesh Maru was instructed to enter the MRI room holding an oxygen tank while the machine was still on. It remains unclear exactly why he was instructed to do so, but the general consensus is that it must have been a horrible mistake.
Either way, the moment Rajesh stepped towards the machine he was “sucked” into the metal tube and pinned against its interior by the oxygen tank. The tank eventually gave in and exploded, covering Rajesh in liquid oxygen which he inhaled. As a result of inhaling this incredibly toxic substance Rajesh died within only 10 minutes of his injuries. Autopsies list the cause of death as a ruptured lung, likely caused by the fact that liquid oxygen is usually stored somewhere between -280 and -180 degrees Celsius.
According to Rajesh’s uncle, Rajesh was repeatedly assured that the machine was switched off. The investigation is ongoing.
While this is something of a horror story it is worth emphasising that MRIs are overwhelmingly safe and this sort of mistake is exceptionally rare. Everyday millions of people receive scans in these devices while accidents almost never happen.
If you’re interested in a demonstration of the forces involved in an MRI machine, you can watch the clip below.