Potential Risks & Discomforts with MRI: Tattoo, Pregnancy and Metal Screening


Potential Risks & Discomforts with MRI: Tattoo, Pregnancy and Metal Screening


The MRI scanning procedure requires that you be lying in a small, partially-enclosed space. Some people find this to be uncomfortable and may feel symptoms of claustrophobia including nervousness, sweating or other minor discomfort. You will be provided with a special ball (or button) to squeeze should you become anxious or agitated during the MRI session. Squeezing the ball will set off an alarm bell and the MRI scan will be immediately discontinued. The sound of the MRI scanner can be quite loud; you will be given special earplugs and/or headphones to minimize the noise. The magnetism of the machine attracts certain metals; therefore, people with these metals in their bodies (such as pacemakers, infusion pumps, aneurysm clips, metal prostheses, joints, rods, or plates) will be excluded from the study. The metal in most dental fillings is less responsive to magnetism and is therefore allowed. You will be asked to fill out a metal screening form before you can undergo an MRI scan in order to notify the investigator conducting the study of any metal in your body, other than dental fillings.There are no other known side effects resulting from exposure to the MRI scan. In the studies performed so far, there have been no significant risks reported in animals or humans for similar exposures. However, the potential risks to a fetus are unknown. Thus, if you are pregnant, or you think you may be pregnant, you should not participate in this study.


Deviation from facial tattoo policy


***Facial tattoos are not allowed at BMC per the default safety policy. See safety manual page 8 for more details. If your lab wants to allow facial tattoos, please follow the below required steps:


1. Submit this tattoo cover letter addresssing the additional risks to the IRB for initial facial tattoo approval AND anytime that the tattoo portion of the risk and discomforts section of the consent is amended. 


2. The PI or lab manager must send an email to BMCTechs@mednet.ucla.edu confirming that the tattoo cover letter was submitted to the IRB for approval. 


3. The below sample excerpt should be added to the consent form under risks and discomforts:


If you have a tattoo, there is a small risk that scanning might lead to discomfort or even a burn at the tattoo site. Depending on the size and location of the tattoo, a cold compress over the tattoo may be recommended to make this less likely. If you experience any discomfort at a tattoo site during scanning, it is important to use the emergency squeeze ball immediately to notify staff so that the scan can be stopped to minimize the risk of injury. If not already in place, adding a cold compress may allow scanning to continue without further discomfort, but if that does not fully eliminate discomfort, scanning will be discontinued. Tattoos that are large, deeply pigmented or located on the genital or face (including permanent makeup) are more likely to lead to discomfort or burns than other tattoos. It may not always be feasible to place a compress over a facial tattoo.