Risks with MRI Scans

MRI scans are routine procedures these days. But it's better to be informed on any of the risks.

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What are the risks of an MRI?

Most sources agree, if done correctly, there are no known dangers to an MRI scan itself. The test is not painful and you cannot feel it. Since radiation is not used, the procedure can be repeated without problems. However, there is a small theoretical risk to a fetus in the first 12 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy, and therefore scans are not performed during this time.

The magnet used in an MRI is extremely powerful but there are no known harmful effects from it. The magnet may affect pacemakers, artificial limbs, and other medical devices that contain iron - even stopping a watch that is close to it. So, patients who have any type of metallic materials within their body must notify their physician or the MRI staff prior to the examination. Patients with artificial heart valves, metallic ear implants, bullet fragments, and chemotherapy or insulin pumps should not have MRI scanning.

Metallic chips, materials, surgical clips, or any foreign material like artificial joints, metallic bone plates, or prosthetic devices, etc. can significantly distort the MRI images. Metal parts in the eyes can damage the retina. An X-ray of the eyes may be done before the MRI and if metal is found, the MRI will not be done.

Iron pigments in tattoos or tattooed eyeliner can cause skin or eye irritation.

A person who is very overweight or obese may not fit into standard MRI machines.

An MRI can cause a burn with some medication patches. Be sure to tell your doctor or MRI staff if you are wearing a patch.

There is a slight risk of an allergic reaction if contrast material is used during the MRI as well as a slight risk of infection. But most reactions are mild and can be treated using medicine.

Getting a MRI:

Find out what the experience is like and what you should expect.

Before the MRI
During the MRI
After the MRI


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IMPORTANT: The information on this page, and throughout the entire site, is not intended to provide advice or treatment for a specific situation. Consult your physician and medical team for information and treatment plans on your specific condition(s). Images are shown for illustrative purposes. Do not attempt to draw conclusions or make diagnoses by comparing these image to other medical images, particularly your own.

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