Piercings, pacemakers, tattoos and other embedded metal can pose problems during MRI scan

Piercings, pacemakers, tattoos and other embedded metal can pose problems during MRI scan

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Piercings, pacemakers, tattoos and other embedded metal can pose problems during MRI scan

The potential list of metal bits is long: stents or shunts, surgical screws or plates, artificial joints or implanted electrodes, dental posts, body piercings or even so called permanent makeup, eyeliner or eyebrows that are tattooed on.

If your doctor orders an MRI for you, you should be ready for a thorough intake process and come armed with as much information as possible about metal in and on your body. JEFF MCINTOSH / THE CANADIAN PRESS

If your doctor orders an MRI for you, you should be ready for a thorough intake process and come armed with as much information as possible about metal in and on your body.

By: Helen Branswell The Canadian Press, Published on Wed Jul 23 2014

We humans are made of flesh and bone, of cartilage, sinews, muscles and tendons.

But a surprising number of us carry around embedded metal as well. The potential list of metal bits is long: stents or shunts, surgical screws or plates, artificial joints or implanted electrodes, dental posts, body piercings or even so called permanent makeup, eyeliner or eyebrows that are tattooed on.

What does all that metal mean if a doctor suggests you should get a diagnostic scan using magnetic resonance imaging, more commonly referred to as an MRI? As the name suggests, the machines use powerful magnets to produce detailed images of soft tissue, organs and joints. Metal is a problem in the rooms where MRIs are housed.

In a highly publicized and tragic example of why, a 6-year-old boy from New York State died in 2001 from injuries incurred when an oxygen tank left in the testing room flew across the room and struck him in the head when the magnet was turned on. In another cautionary incident, a metal worker who had a metal sliver in his eye — the result of an old work accident — lost his vision when the magnet caused the shard to move, severing his optic nerve.

Those stories are […]