Global Helium Shortage - Doctors Are Worried That It Could Threaten MRIs
It's impossible to imagine modern lifewithout helium for the same reason that it's hard to imagine modern life without technology. There's a new fear that there will be a global helium shortagewithin the next 30 years, and it's not only clowns that need to put on their most concerned faces.
As the amount of helium in the world decreases, hospitals, imaging centers, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are probably paying more for it. Eventually, patients may not be able to get an MRI at all.
To maintain the magnets in MRI equipment, liquid helium, the coldest element on Earth, is required. They would be without a vital piece of medical equipment without it. The use of helium in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines is important, but it is sometimes forgotten. Because of this, doctors worry about a global shortage of helium.
The same strange thing that makes balloons float also fuels the lifesaving diagnostic equipment in hospitals: lighter-than-air elements. About 2,000 liters of ultra-cold liquid helium are required to maintain the necessary temperature for the MRI's magnets to operate. Hospitals aren't sure what they should do to get ready for a future when helium, which is a nonrenewable material buried deep in the Earth's crust, will be much harder to get.
“Helium has become a big concern. Especially now with the geopolitical situation.- Mahadevappa Mahesh, a professor of radiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore
There was a period of time when helium was a very unstable commodity. Especially in the U.S., where the federal helium reserve in Texas is running out as the government tries to give private markets control over it.
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, has been widely used in the medical field since the 1980s. Normal X-rays can't show as much detail about the inside of organs, bones, and tissues as larger-than-life devices can.
According to Dr. Scott Reeder, the head of MRI at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, "You get these sharp images, and you can distinguish soft tissues. . . It’s central to many things we do in modern medicine."
Brain tumors, strokes, spinal cord injuries, liver illnesses, and cancer may all be diagnosed with the use of MRIs. Experts agree that 3D pictures cannot be replaced.
MRI machines employ magnetic fields and radio wavesto view the body rather than X-rays, which release small quantities of radiation. Those who lie perfectly motionless within the tube-shaped magnetic field have their atoms aligned with powerful magnetic currents. The system makes a picture by telling its sensors where different tissues are by sending them pulses of radio waves.
Superconductivity in an MRI magnet demands very low temperatures. For this purpose, helium is necessary. Liquid helium is the coldest element on Earth, with a boiling point of minus 452 degrees Fahrenheit. When helium is pumped into an MRI magnet, the current may flow with no resistance. According to Mahesh, the magnet relies on helium to maintain its persistent presence. It's not a luxury item; it's a need.
New Global SHORTAGE Has Doctors WORRIED - Prepping for SHTF
Even while imaging centers are running well and circus tents are still up, the helium shortage is a growing concern that shows no signs of abating. The party business has reduced its helium use by as much as 80% compared to the previous year. Even huge corporations such as GE are making an attempt to save as much helium as possible throughout the production process.
Unfortunately, MRI equipment still needs hundreds of liters of helium to function properly until we can plan forward and discover a robust replacement. So, the first line of defense against this disaster is the usual ways of reducing and reusing. The next best chance is to replace it.
Meanwhile, if you're in the market for any new equipment, it's a good idea to cover your MRI machine with a service plan. This is a great perk since most helium suppliers won't fill your tank more than once unless you sign a cryogen contract with them.
When you have a service contract in place, you can be certain that your helium levels and refill intervals will be tracked consistently, giving you more time to focus on the bigger picture. Get in touch with a member of the Amber Diagnostics team if you have any questions regarding our service contracts or want further information about the healthcare IT sector.
About 2,000 liters of liquid helium are kept in an MRI scanner at all times. However, providers must constantly replace the helium that boils off. According to Mahesh's calculations, an MRI device consumes about 10,000 liters of liquid helium during its lifetime. In 2015, about 12,000 MRI machines were running in the United States. Helium was used a lot in this industry.
On the other hand, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade attendees may thank an estimated 400 thousand cubic feet of helium for keeping all of the balloons, some the size of tractor-trailers, in the air. The helium that could be turned into a liquid would only be enough to power about two MRI scanners for their entire useful lives.