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Uses of Electromagnets in Hospitals

Updated October 29, 2018

Electromagnets see a variety of duties in hospitals. The strong magnetic fields from superconducting magnets have given us devices like the MRI scanner. Electromagnets are used in surgery to safely remove metal shrapnel. And electromagnets play hidden, though important, roles in the design of equipment for patient rooms.

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The Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner uses a powerful electromagnet cooled in liquid helium. The MRI scanner uses the strong magnetic field to create detailed internal images of the body.


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a technique for stimulating the brain. An electromagnet sends a pulsed magnetic field to the patient's head. In some people, it appears to alleviate depression.


Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices (SQUIDs) are electromagnets able to sense tiny electrical changes. They can be used to map brain activity without surgery.


Surgeons sometimes use electromagnetic tools to remove metal fragments from patients. The magnets attract bits of metal that would otherwise be difficult to find or grasp.

Patient Rooms

Designers have proposed using a system of ceiling-mounted arms to organise monitoring equipment in patient rooms. Electromagnetic brakes in the arms serve to hold equipment in place.

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About the Author

Chicago native John Papiewski has a physics degree and has been writing since 1991. He has contributed to "Foresight Update," a nanotechnology newsletter from the Foresight Institute. He also contributed to the book, "Nanotechnology: Molecular Speculations on Global Abundance."

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