Why some clothes could pose a safety hazard during MRI exams

TORONTO – Health professionals are warning clothes containing metal fibres can be dangerous during MRI(Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

“Because you’re going into a magnet,” Sara Lamothe, a MRI Technologist at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa. “You’re putting metal into a magnet. It can actually react and spark or heat up and burn them.”

Jenn Marr learned that the hard way during a recent MRI exam when she was wearing her yoga pants.

“I was getting a burning sensation so strong that I had to press the emergency button for them to stop the machine and pull me out,” she said.

“I said I’m burning. ‘What do you mean you’re burning?’ Like I’m burning. My legs are on fire.”

No one made the connection with the pants butafter a quick break, Marr decided to remove the pants and try again.

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“I was in the machine for 15 minutes and had no burning whatsoever,” she said.

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But the technologist still didn’t think the problem was with the pants. The next day, a fifth-year resident  she met told her the pants have silver in the material that can cause burning during the exam.

MRI Technologists admit it is still fairly new. That’s why some hospitals may not ask you if you are wearing certain clothes.

Queen’s University has a MRI Safety Questionnaire that asks patients if they are wearing clothing with silver or gold threading, like Lululemon Silverescent.

Lululemon uses what it calls silverescent technology, according to information on some Lululemon clothing. The technology purports to stop odour-causing bacteria from embedding itself into the clothing.

But according toAlison Matthews David, an assistant professor at Ryerson University, silver or metal fibres can turn up in other brands but you may not know it.

“If you see the label, anti-microbial, in other words it kills microbes or bacteria, it mostly like does that with silver technology. Nano silver technology,” she said.

David is currently writing a bookabout how clothing can cause bodily harm. She says metal has been used for centuries in clothes butit’s more common now in athletic wear.

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“We have bacteria on our skin that causes us to smell bad and the silver kills that,” David said.

Lakeridge Health requires all patients to disrobe and use a gown for MRI appoinments. Marr says she would like to see all hospitals adopt the same policy.

“Clearly, you have no idea what’s in the material. I never would have guessed that there would have been any form of metal in these pants.” she says.

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