Benjamin Navot, MD, Appointed MRI Medical Director for Milstein Hospital

Dr. Benjamin Navot, MRI Medical Director for Milstein Hospital. 

The Department of Radiology is pleased to announce Dr. Benjamin Navot’s new appointment as MRI Medical Director for Milstein Hospital.

Dr. Navot, assistant professor of radiology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, has led the MRI Safety Committee at NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia University Irving Medical Center since 2018. As MRI Medical Director, he will oversee the MRI Safety Expert and the MRI Safety Officer and will continue to consult directly with physicians about higher-risk individual studies taking place at Milstein.

“It’s exciting to be working towards improving access to MRI for as many patients as possible,” Dr. Navot said. “Our goal is to get them safely imaged—with the best possible imaging that we can offer—in an increasingly complicated world of MRI, devices, implants, and new technology.”

Dr. Navot joined the Department of Radiology as a fellow in the Division of Abdominal Imaging in 2017 and was offered a faculty position after just eight months of fellowship. In addition to running the safety committee, he also leads the weekly multidisciplinary liver tumor board conference.

Q & A with Dr. Benjamin Navot

What are your responsibilities as the MRI Medical Director?

According to American College of Radiology (ACR) guidelines for an MRI program, the MRI director should be a physician who oversees two other officers, the MRI Safety Expert and MRI Safety Officer. The MRI Safety Expert is generally a physicist and the MRI Safety Officer is generally someone who has the practical tech background. So it’s that kind of a trifecta where ultimately medical and legal responsibilities fall on me.

One practical example of what we do is that there’s an increase in need for MRI’s in patients who have pacemakers, and that’s something we’ve been working on for the last couple of years. Now we have a protocol in place where we work with cardiology and we screen these patients and get them in. All of these types of safety questions and more come through me.

What’s the most common safety question?

The thing that comes up most often is a patient has metal somewhere in their body. The most common metal that we see is shrapnel. Old bullet wounds. People who have worked in metal machine shops. Or old surgical material. That’s the most common thing that we see.

So the question becomes, is this dangerous metal and is the location OK? And that’s really about the size and whether or not it’s close to any dangerous structure.

How do you determine that a piece of metal or device is safe?

The vast majority of the metal questions are OK.  I look at the chest X-ray or the CT of the head and usually say yes, this is totally fine.

It’s the devices that are trickier. We’re putting so many more things into people. It’s not just the pacemakers. Now there’s spine stimulators, drug injectors, heart assist devices. When it comes to devices, we rely primarily on the device manufacturer's guidance. The place where that becomes complicated is when different parts of the device come from different manufacturers. That’s when we rely on the physician’s judgement and on research that’s been done. It’s important to keep up with the research on where people are pushing the boundaries of what’s considered safe.

What drew you to MRI?

I’ve always had a love for MRI. My fellowship was a Body MRI fellowship with Dr. Hecht and Dr. Prince, and we’d spend time at the magnet and I’d get that mentorship from them.

There’s a real skill to MRI, especially in body imaging. It takes a lot more knowledge and practice and understanding. On a CT scan the body looks like a body. On an MRI it takes another level of thinking and problem solving to put the picture of what’s actually going on in the patient together. It’s one of our biggest opportunities to help patients and their doctors out.