Feature | September 30, 2013| Dave Fornell

Senate Approves Helium Bill to Maintain Federal Reserve of the MRI Cryogenic Gas

Bill now being considered by the House

Helium, MRI

September 30, 2013 — The U.S. Senate passed legislation Sept. 26 to reauthorize, extend and improve operations of the Federal Helium Reserve in Texas, which will guarantee a stable supply of the gas used for cooling magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems.

The Senate’s approval of HR 527, the High Tech Jobs Preservation Act, by a vote of 97-2 is a big step toward providing greater assurance of access to domestic supplies of refined helium, and was applauded by both the National Electrical Manufacturers Assn. (NEMA) and the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA). Both groups called for the House of Representatives to vote as soon as possible for final passage of the bill.

Helium is a critical component used in the operation MRI machines. The systems must be regularly replenished with helium in order to maintain normal operating temperatures.

The Federal Helium Reserve is a federal facility that provides about 42 percent of U.S. crude helium and about 35 percent of the world’s demand. The bill authorizes the reserve to sell helium to private entities. If Congress fails to act on any helium legislation before Oct. 7, the Federal Helium Reserve will cease operations. U.S. users of helium acquire much of their supply via industrial gas refining companies associated with the reserve.

In a statement from the White House, the impending abrupt shutdown of this program would cause a spike in helium prices that would harm many U.S. industries and disrupt national security programs. Instead, the substitute amendment would provide for an orderly transition of the federal government out of the helium market. The government originally created the reserve in the 1920s because of the limited supply of helium and its use at the time for military dirigibles and blimps. Today, helium is an essential for the aerospace industry, computer chip and optical fiber manufacturing, for medical uses including MRI magnet cooling, lung tissue visualization, heart catheterization methods and medical lasers, and aluminum helium arc welding. Helium is also used in national defense applications such as rocket engine testing and purging, surveillance devices, air-to-air missiles and scientific balloons.

“The passage of this legislation will safeguard patient access to critical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans that are used to detect, diagnose and treat disease, facilitate medical research at academic institutions around the country that are spearheading life-saving innovations and prevent a needless disruption to the U.S. economy that would have put millions of jobs at risk,” said Gail Rodriguez, executive director of MITA, in a statement.

"I commend Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for their leadership in reaching a compromise proposal that addresses the priorities of industrial end users of helium, including manufacturers of magnetic resonance imaging equipment and solid-state lighting,” said NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis in a statement. “I urge the House to act on the Senate-passed bill as soon as possible this month.”

For more information: http://naturalresources.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=320460#background

Related Content

Hitachi Medical Systems America, HMSA, Evolution 5, MRI software platform, Echelon Oval, RSNA 2015

Echelon Oval image courtesy of Hitachi Medical Systems America Inc.

Technology | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)| November 24, 2015
In conjunction with the upcoming Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) 2015 exhibition, Hitachi Medical Systems...
Fraunhofer MEVIS, MRI, CaFuR, real-time MRI, beating heart

The software developed by Fraunhofer MEVIS automatically identifies the breathing and heart contraction phases in the data independent of the ECG information. This allows for a fast and easy examination of heart patients. Image courtesy of Fraunhofer MEVIS.

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)| November 18, 2015
Today, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows more gentle, precise and cost-effective heart disease diagnosis. However...
Kopp Development, FerrAlert FILM, Ferrogmagnetic Incident Log Manager, Joint Commission standards

The FerrAlert Ferromagnetic Incident Log Manager (FILM) device is designed to work exclusively with Kopp Development's FerrAlert Halo II Plus MRI entryway system, pictured above. Image courtesy of Kopp Development Inc.

Technology | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)| November 17, 2015
Kopp Development Inc. announced the release of the new accessory for their latest magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)...
GE Healthcare, MRI, RSNA 2015, Signa Explorer, Signa Creator, Signa Pioneer

Signa Explorer image courtesy of GE Healthcare

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)| November 16, 2015
At this year’s Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting, GE Healthcare is showcasing continued...
Boston Scientific, CE Mark, MRI conditional labeling, CRT-Ds, ICDs

X4 CRT-D system image courtesy of Boston Scientific

News | EP Lab| October 30, 2015
Boston Scientific Corp. has received CE Mark on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) conditional labeling for the current...
cardiac MRI, heart age, left ventricular change, Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis
News | Cardiac Imaging| October 16, 2015
The main pumping chamber of the heart ages differently in men and women, according to a new magnetic resonance imaging...
Kopp Development, FerrAlert Halo II Plus MRI entryway system, ITN

Image courtesy of Kopp Development Inc.

Technology | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)| October 14, 2015
Kopp Development Inc. has released a new entryway system for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) rooms — FerrAlert Halo II...
Medtronic, Evera, ICD, MR-conditional, MRI, FDA approval
Technology | Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD)| September 14, 2015
Medtronic received the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for an implantable cardioverter...
Pie Medical Imaging, Frost & Sullivan, technology leadership, CAAS, cardiovascular diagnostics

CAAS MRV is part of Pie Medical Imaging's suite of imaging solutions for quantitative cardiovascular diagnosis and treatment planning. - See more at: http://www.itnonline.com/content/pie-medical-imaging-recognized-innovati...

News | Cardiac Imaging| September 01, 2015
Based on its recent analysis of the cardiovascular image management market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes Pie Medical...
IMRIS, going concern sale, Deerfield Management Company L.P., imaging and service, robotics intellectual property
News | Cath Lab| August 14, 2015
IMRIS Inc. announced in late July that investment funds managed by Deerfield Management Company L.P. (“Deerfield”) were...
Overlay Init