Midlands hi-tech firms create MRI alert system
A unique metal detection system for MRI scanning suites, designed by two Midlands-based hi-tech specialists, is being hailed as a life-saver in the UK and US.
The central magnet in an MRI scanner is said to have such a powerful attraction to ferrous metals it can hurl a porter’s trolley through a room, or rip a device from the body of a patient.
According to a recent US study, incidents occur once in every 1,000 scans, so by immediately alerting clinicians to any trace of ferrous metal entering the MRI scanning suite, the new Metrasens Ferroguard system can have a dramatic effect on improving patient safety.
A nine-year-old girl has already benefited at Russell’s Hall Hospital, Dudley, where she was taken into an MRI room for a head scan.
The child was screened with the Ferroguard system and a strong ferrous signal was detected. It was later confirmed by x-ray that the child had two small toy magnets stuck in her nose, which may have ripped through her skin had the MRI scan continued.
A global first, the new alert system was invented by Metrasens Ltd, a spin-out from leading defence technology and security company, QinetiQ, and designed by product innovators Smallfry, who were brought together by Birmingham-based healthcare industry specialists MedilinkWM.
Metrasens’ chief executive, Dr Simon Goodyear, said: “The dangers of using MRI scanners can be significantly reduced by using the Ferroguard system. The American College of Radiologists is already recommending that all US MRI facilities have a warning system such as Ferroguard in each of their facilities.
“Our support from MedilinkWM and AWM’s medical technology cluster led to our partnership with Smallfry, who brought a level of elegance and sophistication to our product that has received great reactions from our customers.”
Smallfry’s CEO, Steve May-Russell, added: “The commercial opportunity for this system is very exciting. Our understanding of manufacturing processes and assembly techniques has helped Metrasens enhance their product and styling, as well as reducing assembly time significantly.
“The need for an effective detection system is clear, and Metrasens have used Smallfry’s design and intuitive warning beacon display to help realise the full market potential of their technology.”
MedilinkWM’s CEO, Tony Davis, said: “Inventions like the Ferroguard system have global significance in the progression of healthcare, and demonstrate the region’s strength in medical technology.”