Unclean MRIs could carry MRSA strain

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
e-mail icon
Google icon

A radiologist has suggested that MRIs are often not being properly cleaned, and that methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is being spread during radiological scans.

According to Peter Rothschild, MD, who published a white paper on the topic, the most common source for transmission of MRSA is by direct or indirect contact with people who have MRSA infections or are asymptomatic carriers.

Worldwide, it is estimated that up to 53 million people are asymptomatic carriers of MRSA. Of these it is estimated that 2.5 million reside in the United States. Approximately 1 percent of the U.S. population is colonized with MRSA. Both infected and colonized patients contaminate their environment with the same relative frequency.

Rothschild said that MRSA and other pathogens can live on and in common MRI table pads and positioners for several months. By using a magnifying glass to thoroughly examine all the seams for a tear or fraying and the use of a black light, he said anyone can check pads for biological contamination.

Rothschild, a board-certified radiologist formerly served as medical director of the research laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco, where he was also an adjunct assistant professor of radiology.