There are a thousand reasons to be afraid of getting an MRI. Whether those fears come from the inevitable claustrophobia one will feel inside that tiny little tube or from learning the diagnosis that awaits when the test is finished it is completely natural to go into the procedure with more than a little bit of trepidation. Tattooed people have an additional reason to be afraid—tattoo ink can burn the skin during an MRI.
There have been cases when people with tattoos have suffered severe burns while undergoing an MRI. The culprit is the iron oxides that can be found in certain pigments of tattoo ink, according toThe Smithsonian. The M in MRI stands for "magnetic" and even Juggalos understand that magnets have a certain effect on metal. In the case of tattoo ink the magnets within the MRI machine are thought to excite the iron oxide molecules to the point of first causing heat, and eventually burns to the skin.
While there is a risk of being burned in an MRI machine by one's tattoos the instances of this actually happening are relatively rare, but this is not the only way in which a tattoo can affect an MRI. A magnetic field is used in order create images of a person's body in an MRI, since the iron oxide within tattoo pigments interacts with that magnetic field tattoos can distort the images created by the machine. Thus, a distorted image can lead to an inconclusive diagnosis, according to a study published in the medical journal Sports Health.
OK, we hope that we haven't scared you into skipping that MRI that your doctor has recommended. The FDA has issued a statement saying that the burns that have happened due to tattoo ink happen so rarely that there is little reason to skip the procedure. In fact, they believe that ignoring doctor's orders to get the procedure if are riskier than undergoing one. Instead just make sure that you inform the technicians about your tattoos, this way they will be ready to assist if you do start to have a bad reaction.