FDA warns against wearing masks with metal during MRIs after patient is burned

A patient wearing a face mask with a metal part was burned while undergoing an MRI exam – prompting the Food and Drug Administration to issue a warning about the potential dangers of using such coverings.

“The FDA received an injury report for a patient who was wearing a face mask with metal during a 3 Tesla MRI scan of the neck. The report describes burns to the patient’s face consistent with the shape of the face mask,” the FDA said in its alert Tuesday.

The agency warned that patients should not wear any metal during an MRI, a well-known precaution that was apparently missed during the person’s neck scan.

“Given the increased use of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA wants patients and health care providers to be aware of the potential risk of face burns related to the use of patient face masks containing metal during an MRI,” the FDA said.

The agency noted that it is appropriate for a patient to wear a mask for an MRI exam during the coronavirus pandemic.

”Before the MRI begins, health care providers who perform MRI exams should confirm the face mask has no metal. Some face masks have metal strips to help shape the mask to the face of the user, nanoparticles, or antimicrobial coating, which may contain metal (for example, silver or copper),” it said.

“The metal could result in radio frequency (RF)-induced heating. This may represent a hazard for MR imaging during the COVID-19 pandemic.”