Guidance for trials using MRI during COVID-19

April 24, 2020
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Clinical trial participants have been asking whether it is safe to get an MRI scan during the COVID-19 outbreak. New guidance for health systems was released over the weekend on resuming elective procedures.

Our aim is to provide some additional guidance for sponsors running clinical trials in order to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on liver patients and healthcare providers. It is critical healthcare facilities preserve healthcare system functioning and continue to provide care for all patients. Decisions should be made by providers in collaboration with local and state public health leaders.

There are several factors which make MRI a relatively safe testing method during COVID-19:

Reduced physical proximity:

  • Unlike contact-based imaging technologies like MRE paddle and ultrasound probes, physical proximity between the patient and provider is minimal for MRI procedures, with the technologist spending most time in a different room.
  • LiverMultiScan is a non-contrast procedure, further removing more health care professionals from participating in the procedure.
  • Routine questions can be asked beforehand via telephone or virtual check-ins.
  • Social distancing can be facilitated by minimizing wait times, spacing chairs at least six feet apart and keeping low patient volume.

Distribution of patients for imaging procedures

  • Restrictions on imaging will vary in impact among practices depending on their location and the severity of the pandemic in each region. Patients should be distributed evenly to different imaging centers away from high-volume/high-risk ones.
  • Consider focusing screening efforts on private out-patient imaging facilities, rather than imaging centers that are in a hospital or larger medical center.
  • Current regulations advise against use of imaging modalities such as Ultrasound.
  • Some imaging centers and radiologists may have extended working hours.

Routine room cleaning:

  • Risk is minimized by routine disinfections of the room and scanner tube.

PPE usage:

  • All staff at imaging centers and hospitals use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Each facility we work with will be able to provide full details of their strategies to ensure patient safety, so we recommend reaching out to them directly if you are concerned.
  • Require patients to wear a cloth face covering that can be bought or made at home if they don’t already have a surgical mask.

Routine Screening

  • When adequate testing capability is established, patients can be screened at the hospital entrances for COVID-19 symptoms, with a second layer of symptom screening at the radiology front desk.
  • Providers should also be routinely screened and closely monitored for symptoms.
  • Limit the presence of non-essential team members in the hospital (e.g., students, observers, research staff) to minimize exposure risk

We strive to ensure impact on your trial is minimal, whilst ensuring patient safety comes first. As LiverMultiScan remains a safe test with minimal physical contact and provides highly accurate (Harrison 2019) and repeatable (Bachtiar 2019) results with just one quick scan, it is ideally suited to support your imaging trial needs during this time.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the continuity of your imaging trial going forward, we are ready and able to assist you. Schedule an online meeting with us to talk more about how we can help you maintain your clinical trial timeline.

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