Pa Patient Saf Advis 2010 Dec;7(4):154.  
Letter to the Editor: Silver-Coated Catheters in an MR Environment
Nursing, Radiology, Urology
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With the new catheter-associated urinary tract infection prevention strategies, some institutions, including ours, are starting to utilize silver-coated urinary catheters on certain high-risk patients. I was asked by other hospital staff if there are risks associated with the use of silver-coated urinary catheters in patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging scans due to the metallic composition of the silver coating. I contacted a catheter manufacturer, and they assured me that their silver-coated catheter product was safe in a magnetic resonance environment. I would like to know if the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority is aware of any events that have occurred with silver-coated urinary catheters.

Eugene F. Anderson, RN, MSN, CCRN

Corporate-Clinical Educator

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network

Editor’s Note

Thank you for your inquiry regarding compatibility between silver-coated urinary catheters and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Currently, Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority analysts are not aware of any published literature addressing the use of silver-coated catheters in a magnetic resonance (MR) environment. To date, there have been no reports involving silver-coated catheters used in the MR environment submitted to the Authority through its reporting system. Additionally, a review of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database did not reveal any reports.

Because silver is a nonferromagnetic metal, the silver coating on the catheter would not be affected by the magnetic effects of the MR field. However, MRI scans do use radio-frequency energy, which can induce electric currents within electrical conductors, possibly heating the conductors and potentially causing patient burns. This phenomenon is unlikely with silver-coated catheters, but in the absence of empirical data, cannot be ruled out entirely. Image artifact or distortion may be an issue given the location of the silver-coated catheter in relation to the body part being scanned. The specific catheter manufacturer may be the best source for information regarding the compatibility between silver-coated catheters and MRI scans. With this, and any other MR procedure, the patient should be monitored and instructed to immediately report any unusual pain or heating and the scan suspended until the cause of the pain has been determined. Any occurrences of patient pain or burns related to silver-coated catheter use during MRI scans should be reported to the catheter manufacturer, to facility internal and external reporting systems (e.g., the Authority), and to regulatory agencies (e.g., FDA) to aggregate and analyze data to identify potential compatibility issues between silver-coated catheters and MRI.

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