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FDA issues warning about metal in face masks after patient burned during MRI

A patient who wore a face mask with metal parts was burned during an MRI exam, prompting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a warning on Monday about the type of mask using during such appointments.

The patient was undergoing an MRI exam of the neck and suffered burns to the face that were “consistent with the shape of the face mask.”

The FDA said health care providers should provide face masks without metal to MRI patients.
(iStock)

In general, patients are advised to remove any metal before undergoing an MRI, and technicians or health care providers are encouraged to perform a thorough check before beginning the exam. However, due to the increasing use of masks during the coronavirus pandemic, the FDA issued new guidance pertaining to metal in the protective face coverings.

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“Metal parts, like nose pieces, sometimes called nose clips or wires, nanoparticles (ultrafine particles), or antimicrobial coating that may contain metal (such as silver or copper), may become hot and burn the patient during an MRI,” the FDA advisory, posted Monday, stated. “The FDA recommends patients wear face masks with no metal during MRIs.”

The agency noted that it may be difficult to determine whether a mask has metal in it, so patients should consult with the MRI technician before the exam begins. Health care providers who cannot determine whether there is metal in the face mask should suggest an alternative face mask that does not contain metal.

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“Health care providers who perform MRI exams are encouraged to provide face masks without metal to patients who will undergo an MRI,” the FDA said.

Patients who do suffer burns from a face mask during an MRI are urged to report the event to the FDA.