What Are the Dangers of MRI Scans?


Quick Answer

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, uses magnets that can heat up or affect the functioning of implanted devices, such as artificial limbs, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Another safety concern is the possibility of getting injured if any loose metal object gets drawn toward the magnet.

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MRI is a procedure that creates detailed pictures of the body’s internal organs and structures by using powerful magnetic fields and radio waves, explains the FDA. Doctors sometimes use a contrast agent to produce clearer images of specific parts of the body.

Ionizing radiation, which poses the risk of damaging DNA, is used in CT scans and X-rays; however, it is not used in MRI scans, notes the FDA. MRI is a relatively safe procedure with no known dangerous side effects. A potential risk of MRI scans is an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to the contrast agent. Patients with kidney problems can also experience problems due to contrast agents. Individuals with tattoos or tattooed eyeliner can suffer skin or eye irritation.

Another possible risk is a skin burn from medication patches, states the FDA. Careful positioning of the wire leads used in monitoring an electrocardiogram trace during an MRI is essential to prevent causing a skin burn. A person may also experience a slightly warmer body when exposed to radio waves for prolonged periods.

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