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Use of face masks during MRI examinations

Safety advisory

18 December 2020

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is advising consumers and health professionals that patients may be injured if they wear face masks (such as surgical or non-surgical masks and respirators) with metal parts and coatings during a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) examination.

Metal parts such as nose pieces (sometimes called nose clips or wires), staples, ultrafine particles or antimicrobial coatings that may contain metallic elements may become hot and burn the patient during an MRI. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently received a report that a patient's face was burned from the metal in a face mask worn during an MRI and has published a Safety Communication in relation to this matter.

Information for consumers

Please ensure you do not wear any metal objects during an MRI examination, including face masks containing metal parts, like a bendable nose piece or staples on the headband.

You should also note that you may not be able to tell whether your mask may have metal in it. Hence, it is advised that patients enquire with the health care professional at the MRI facilities before undergoing an MRI examination.

Information for health professionals

MRI facilities are advised to review their existing policies and guidelines related to metal screening before and during procedures, and consider if additional precautions should be in place to check for metal in face masks.

When it is appropriate for a patient to wear a face mask during an MRI examination, please ensure the face mask contains no metal.

If the absence of metal cannot be confirmed and it is determined to be appropriate for the patient to wear a face mask, an alternative mask confirmed to be absent of metal should be used.

Health professionals who perform MRI exams are encouraged to provide face masks without metal to patients who are required to undergo an MRI examination.

Reporting problems

Consumers and health professionals are encouraged to report problems with medical devices. Your report will contribute to the TGA's monitoring of these products. For more information see the TGA Incident Reporting and Investigation Scheme (IRIS).

The TGA cannot give advice about an individual's medical condition. You are strongly encouraged to talk with a health professional if you are concerned about a possible adverse event associated with a medical device.