As I noted in the most recent post, my mother recently got word that she is cancer-free. This news was made possible by an MRI scan that she underwent last week. While in the waiting room prior to the scan, my mother was sitting next to me and filling out some paperwork. As MRIs produce a magnetic field 10,000 times the strength of the Earth's magnetic field, I had expected that she would be required to remove her earlobe studs before the procedure. However, I was quite confused when she noted with some satisfaction that the paperwork warned tattooed patients that their ink may heat up and cause burns during the scan. "Seeee!" was her only comment, as if this warning meant that I would never be able to have an MRI. But with all of the tattooed people I've seen in my life, it's unlikely that none of them have ever had one. So I decided to do a little research on the subject, and here's what I found...
First off, there have been situations in which a patient with tattoos did experience minor burns as a result of an MRI scan. The good news for us youngens is that this type of reaction is unlikely if you have acquired your tattoo within the last 20 years. The recent developments in tattoo equipment and ink have resulted in a lessened amount of trace metals (namely iron oxide) in the ink. Nowadays, the only real risk of reactions to MRI scans involves cosmetic tattoos such as eyeliner or lipliner, whose inks often contain higher quantities of iron oxide metal.
Tattoo that has been burned as a result of an MRI scan.
All in all, the risk of reaction for us tattooed folk when entering that claustrophoby capsule is quite low. The one thing you will want to remember if you are tattooed and must get an MRI is that your body does not lie to you. If you feel tingling or heat on or around your tattooed areas, inform the technician immediately.
Now you know! :o)