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Site Planning for a Mobile MRI Machine

Requirements might include support pad, electricity, mobile grounding, telephone and data service, water supply and clearance

A Mobile MRI machine intends to provide high system performance standards, comfortable patient handling, professional working environment, and sufficient storage space. Just like site planning for fixed MRIs, proper site location and preparation are still imperative for successful operation. Other requirements to keep in mind including support pad, electricity, mobile grounding, telephone and data service, water supply, site clearance, and general regulations.

Location. When choosing a location for the mobile MRI machine, think of the setting and how it will affect the set up. For example, consider the impact of the magnetic field to the surrounding areas such as buildings and parking lots, the ventilation for generator airflow, and the effect of moving metal and vibrations. Keep in mind that moving metal objects near the magnet, such as high power lines, emergency vehicles, forklift trucks, helicopter landings, and automobile traffic can affect magnetic field homogeneity and degrade

image quality. These objects should be held 9 to 12 feet from the unit. A firm, level surface is also required around the mobile unit for convenient access to the trailer, servicing the unit, proper handling of cryogens, and for patient lift operations and staircase.

Support Pads. Whether you choose the minimum support pads or the recommended full pad, the support pad level is strictly enforced to avoid any difficulties in the MRI system operation. The support pad depth should be determined by a local contractor based upon weight distribution. As there are varying site conditions and local building codes, the actual pad design should be prepared by a licensed structural or architectural engineer. It is also suggested that non-ferrous reinforcement materials be used for pad reinforcement.

Electricity. Electricity is essential in order to power the Mobile MRI machine, HVAC system, and the chiller. The trailer’s electrical system is hardwired on one end, and the free end of the cable has a connector attached for compatibility with the site’s receptacle, typically a 480 volt, 3-phase receptacle. The facility is responsible for providing a matching receptacle. As for connection of shore power, this should be performed by local, qualified electricians only. The shoreline is located in the rear skirt compartment and can be accessed from either the roadside or curbside. If power is lost to the unit, it is imperative that the generator be started to retain environmental controls.

Grounding. The ground for the system should originate at the first access point of power into the facility, and be constant to the system power disconnect in the room. The ground wiring consists of copper wires the same size as the disconnect feeders. The unit must also have an earth driven ground rod within a certain distance of the hospitable power receptacle. A grounding cable must be connected between the grounding rod and the grounding pin of the power receptacle. A separate insulated grounding conductor should also be installed in the power distribution unit in accordance with local, state and national electric codes.

Telephone and data service. The mobile MRI units are supplied with telephone connections, data line connections, and connecting cables; and the customer is required to purchase and install the weatherproof phone outlets for use at the site. Any additional cables needed must also be purchased by the customer. Telephone and data services may vary, so be sure to confirm exact connections on the trailer. For example, the data line may require a standard RJ45 connector mounted in a weatherproof box, and phone lines may require a Hubbell PH6597 weatherproof outlet mounted in a Hubbell PH6619 weatherproof box. Data boxes and phone boxes should be located in the same general area.

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Water supply. The mobile MRI machine can be operated either with a water line connected and pressurized, or disconnected, providing tank is refilled as needed. The unit’s water storage tank for the humidifier should always contain water to insure the specified humidity level remains consistent. In cold weather conditions, the site must provide a weather protected supply line to prevent pipe freeze. Finally, the facility must provide sanitary wastewater drainage that complies with locally applicable codes.

Site clearance. Convenient means of entrance and exit for staff and patients must be provided by the mobile unit, with attention to swing and turn radii. Site clearance should be considered for all compartment doors, entrance doors and canopy doors. It is a good idea to understand the actual dimensions of the rearmost projections of your tractor to the centerline so you can verify your swing clearance. Sharp dips, curbs, bumps, and other road surface conditions can affect the mobile unit ground clearance. With turning requirements, the site must prepare adequate space to accommodate the turning radius. It is also essential to ensure the access route is clear of obstructions when the trailer is scheduled to arrive or depart.

Regulations. Local, state, and national regulations may differ from site to site, so be sure to have the proper permits, meet the applicable codes, and have all the qualified personnel for labor. It is the responsibility of each site to ensure that these regulations are met and hinder any costs associated with the requirements. Although the mobile MRI machine is most likely manufactured according to stringent quality engineering standards, it is wise to consult building code authorities well in advance of installation to avoid any unnecessary delays.

Keep in mind that this is a general reference to get you on the right track, and not an official construction plan. Requirements may change without notice as systems evolve; site conditions, application requirements, customer preferences, equipment configuration, and federal, state, and local requirements can also significantly impact the design and layout.

If you have questions or difficulty with your mobile MRI site planning, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help!

Posted by:
Bobby Serros
MRI, CT & PET/CT Specialist


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