This is a very informative article from PAIN MAGAZINE……… we would like to pass on to our readers
Last week a client came in for tattoo work on a large back piece we have been working on for a while. After a three hour session and during the after tattoo chatter he mentioned that he would be going in for an MRI the following week and said he hoped it would be OK. I asked him if he had consulted his doctor about the possibilities of a reaction to the MRI. He said he never even thought about asking his doctor if he could get a new tattoo just before the MRI. He didn’t see any connection between the two. A few days later he called and told me the doctor rescheduled the MRI until after he healed, and that the doctor thought the metals in the tattoo ink may heat up during the MRI process. The man is heavily tattooed and has never had an MRI before. I am heavily tattooed and have had several MRIs performed on me while in the navy. I have been getting tattooed for the last 36 years and I am sure I have a wide spectrum of tattoo pigments in my skin. I have never felt any thing while having the procedure performed, not even a tingle.
So, what is (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) MRI, and how does it affect the tattoo folds of this world? To find out the answer to this question I went online and started reading. I came up with some interesting published works. One article in particular caught my attention because I could read it and understand it. Published in the Radiology Journal, the article is titled “MR Procedures: Biologic Effects, Safely, and Patient Care.” The authors are Frank G. Shellock PHD and John V. Crues MD. In many cases much like my client, many doctors have refused to perform MR procedures on people with tattoos. This practice prevents people with tattoos from having access to very important diagnostic technology. It seems that the act of cosmetic tattooing has a minor effect on the patients receiving on MRI. Slight tingle or a burning sensation of a transient nature seems to top the list. No serious side effects reported. Decorative tattoos had a much more dramatic effect with reports of first and second dergree burns in some patients. These effects are not common and are short termed and the patient should be permitted to under go an MR procedure.
If you are one of the unlucky ones and your tattoos do heat up during an MRI an ice pack or a cold compress at the site of the tattoo as a precautionary measure may relieve the heating. This treatment is done before the MRI, there is little risk, cost or time delay to the MRI. The benefit of this minor practice is that it may reduce the possibility of thermal injury.
Information on this topic has also been provided to patients by the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Cosmetics and Color fact sheet as follows: “The risks of avoiding an MRI when your doctor has recommended on the likely to be much greater than the risks of complications from an interaction between the MRI. Individuals who have tattoos or permanent make up should inform the radiologist or technician of this fact in order to take precautions, to avoid complications and assure the best results.”
This is what I found online and I hope it is helpful. I have never been refused an MRI because I have tattoos or have been recently tattooed. It is always best to consult your doctor if you know you are due to have a medical procedure in the near future and you want to get tattooed before it. I would always suggest getting tattooed after an event so it does not become an issue and jeopardize your health.
HEALTH AND EDUCATION DIRECTOR
ALLIANCE OF PROFESSIONAL TATTOOISTS