Managing Patients with Feeding Tubes Undergoing MR Scans
November 29, 2017 | Evaluations & Guidance
Patients with feeding tubes who are referred for an MR scan must be handled carefully. It is well known in healthcare that the powerful magnetic field created by an MR system can cause ferromagnetic objects to be pulled forcefully into the bore of the system, potentially resulting in staff or patient injury and equipment damage. This means that only medical equipment and accessories appropriate for the MR environment can be safely brought into the scan room. See Resisting the Pull: Monitors and Pumps Designed for Safe Use in an MR Environment.
Although feeding tubes are typically weighted with nonferromagnetic material (e.g., radiopaque polyurethane) to facilitate insertion and positioning, at least one manufacturer (Cook Medical) produces a tube with coiled stainless steel at the end; the manufacturer does not provide information about the tube's MR status. (Materials used in the MR environment should be labeled MR Safe, MR Unsafe, or MR Conditional. An MR Conditional device can be used in the MR environment as long as certain conditions are met. See Safety Labeling for the MR Environment. )
Determining the MR safety status of devices is an ongoing challenge, particularly with devices that are typically benign, such as enteral feeding tubes. The manufacturer and type of tube that is in place are not usually identifiable by the scanning technologist, and it is unlikely that patients would know what brand of tube they have. (If a feeding tube is discovered to be ferromagnetic, tube removal before the scan and subsequent tube insertion is an option, but should be...