MRI produces images through magnetic waves
Unlike an x-ray or a CT scan that exposes the patient to radiation, an MRI unit produces images through the use of magnetic waves. MRI exams are typically performed on the soft tissues of the body, such as the brain, the heart, internal organs, and the spinal cord.
Some patients are at a higher risk for burn than others
The MRI unit, which is essentially a large magnet, has a magnetic force that is at least 10,000 times the strength of the Earth’s magnetic force. As MRI technology has evolved, the magnetic force of MRI units has become more and more powerful, thereby placing the patient at a greater risk for a burn injury. The MRI unit, like other magnets, magnetically attracts ferrous metallic objects. For example, patients with implantable wires from a pacemaker or defibrillator unit, a brain aneurysm clip, a cochlear implant, certain types of coronary artery stents, and various types of artificial joints are at a significantly increased risk for a thermal or burn injury when undergoing an MRI. Also, patients with older tattoos that are dark in color have an increased risk of a burn injury due to iron oxide within the dye.