Worldwide helium shortage not affecting Saskatoon's MRIs
When you think about helium, the first things that might come to mind are
balloons or squeaky voices, but the gas is also critical to MRIs as liquid
helium helps cool the magnets.
A worldwide shortage of helium means some hospitals could face delays, but in Saskatoon that is not a worry as the four MRI machines are new models.
"The concern with older MRI systems is they burn off that helium a lot more than the current systems do," said Bryan Witt, director of medical imaging and nuclear medicine services for the Saskatoon Health Region.
When Al Lalonde first starting working in the MRI department at Saskatoon's Royal University Hospital in 1992, the helium in the machines had to be replaced much more regularly.
"When I started in MR with our initial first system, we would do a helium fill every three or four weeks. So, that's the difference now, we're like every three or four years," said Lalonde, the current MRI tech supervisor for RUH.
Saskatoon's four MRI machines are considered relatively new, with the oldest purchased in 2008.
Witt pointed out it is good these new machines won't be affected as many people will need MRI scans this year.
"Our target for this year in Saskatoon is to try to achieve 16, 750 patients," he said.
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