FDA Warns About Problems During MRI Exams From Metal In Face Masks

With face masks regularly used during medical exams during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal health officials are warning about serious risks associated with undergoing an MRI with a face mask that contains metal pieces, which are often found in the nose bridge and may cause serious problems during the imaging.

During a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam, face masks with metal pieces may cause patients to suffer devastating burns to their face, according to a safety communication issued by the FDA on December 7.

Doctors often advise patients not to avoid receiving necessary medical attention due to fears of the pandemic. However, patients must wear face masks when receiving care, doctor treatment, imaging tests, and surgery, to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

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Many face masks contain metal pieces, which are increasingly popular among individuals who also wear glasses, to help avoid fogging. Metal parts may be found in nose pieces, nose clips and wires, as well as some masks that contain nanoparticles (ultra-fine particles), or antimicrobial coatings that may contain metal, such as silver or copper. These small pieces can cause radio frequency induced heating during an MRI, and can present a burn danger to the patient.

The FDA warns that individuals may be seriously injured if they wear face masks with metal parts and coatings during MRI exams. These include surgical masks and non-surgical masks and respirators.

The warning came after the FDA received a report that a patient’s face was burned from the metal in a face mask worn during an MRI.

The agency recommends patients only wear face masks with no metal during MRIs. Patients should take care to speak to the person performing the MRI if they think their mask has metal in it before undergoing the scans.

According to agency’s recommendations, healthcare providers should make sure the patient is not wearing a face mask with any type of metal piece or metal fibers in it. If the absence of metal cannot be confirmed, a different mask should be worn. MRI facilities should be prepared to provide a different face mask to patients if metal is found or the absence of metal cannot be confirmed.

If a patient experiences a burn during an MRI exam, it should be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch adverse event reporting program.


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