The RTM Engineering Consultants team has designed and created engineering solutions for more than 75 healthcare clients, and understands the complexity of this sector. Within a hospital, needs vary significantly by department and specialty treatment area, and RTM takes pride in understanding each area’s unique specifications and requirements involving mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection (MEP/FP) systems.
In a two-part series, we examine the importance of effective MEP/FP design for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suites. In part one of the series we reviewed mechanical considerations, and today, we focus on the electrical, fire protection and plumbing considerations when designing MRI suites.
MRI equipment must be protected from electrical interferences that can upset the magnetic field and the imaging process. Keeping equipment running is critical, and the RTM team knows that the heart of a safe and reliable facility is the primary and secondary power supply systems with proper distribution channels.
An MRI scanner produces a radio frequency (RF) signal, which must be protected from interference. Alternating current (AC) power has been known to result in RF interference and distortion of images. Because of this, MRI room lighting fixtures utilize direct current (DC) power. As in every hospital setting, lighting levels should be carefully reviewed; RTM utilizes in-house lighting designers to run photometric calculations to assure proper light levels.
RF shields are typically thin sheets of copper foil, aluminum, or galvanized steel that cover floors, ceilings, doors, and windows in an MRI magnet room. Any penetrations into RF-shielded areas (for example, HVAC, power, exhaust, plumbing and piping) pass through RF filters or wave guides. Since ferromagnetic materials can interfere with MRI operations, all ductwork, hangers, and supports within the RF shield must be non-ferrous.
Emergency Power & UPS
Individual hospitals along with the building code determine the type of emergency power MRI equipment will need in the event of a power outage. Hospitals frequently use uninterrupted power supply (UPS) systems to maintain constant power to equipment during an outage, or when transferring from one source to another. The UPS helps maintain power when switching to and from generator-backed power.
Plumbing & Fire Protection Systems
MRI suites require unique plumbing and fire protection systems to meet the facility’s health and safety needs while also accommodating the equipment’s distinct specifications.
Designing plumbing systems around an MRI magnet room without interfering with sensitive equipment is particularly challenging. Water and drain lines must be installed in a way that will not interfere with the RF shield, including passing through RF wave guides and dielectric breaks.
All sprinkler system components in MRI rooms must be constructed of non-ferrous materials (copper, brass, and stainless steel are common). Careful consideration should be made for piping in adjacent spaces.
“From an MRI suite renovation to a ground-up medical center, RTM recognizes the impact that every design decision has on patient care, facilities, and cost,” said RTM Principal Tim Larson, P.E. “RTM’s team members deliver customized MEP/FP healthcare designs that produce easily maintainable and energy-efficient operations to help realize cost savings.”
To learn more about designing MRI suites, download our latest whitepaper, The Importance of MEP Systems in MRI Suites.