(KMOV)-- The MRI scare in Sunset Hills led News 4 to ask some important questions about MRI machines all over the area, the big one being: are they just ticking time bombs we need to worry about the next time a storm causes a power outage?
Hospitals have backup generators to keep MRI machines working properly. The last thing they want is a large buildup of power because of the possibly devastating results.
A YouTube video from 2006 shows an MRI in Atlanta that exploded and blew a ten foot hole in the wall.
While hospitals have generators, most imaging centers do not.
News 4's Russell Kinsaul was told, though, that when the power is off, an MRI vents slowly and alarms go off to notify staff to take special precautions.
The problem in Sunset Hills became so serious because the SSM imaging center on South Lindbergh was no longer seeing patients, so no one may have noticed the alarm for several days.
That damaged vent was a fluke deal because of the storm on New Year’s Eve.
Dr. Matt Stadnyk, a radiologist, said, “there are several thousand hospitals in the United States, several thousand imaging centers with MRI’s, and this is the first time I've ever heard of a tornado doing something like this to an imaging center, and particularly an MRI.”
It took so long to realize the Sunset Hills risk because no one anticipated vent damage because of the storm.
The chances of an MRI explosion are unlikely; it would be a one in a billion chance the same thing would happen again, but imaging centers now at least know to check the vents after a storm.