By Lynne Adkins

By Lynne Adkins 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If you need an MRI, do not be surprised to be asked if you have a tattoo.

Most patients know they can’t wear metal or have metal implants when getting an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, but many don’t know that tattoos can also cause problems.

(credit: Lynne Adkins)

(credit: Lynne Adkins)

Dr. Philip Lim, a diagnostic radiologist at Abington-Jefferson Health, says the problem is in the ink that was commonly used years ago or overseas.


“For tattoos, they’re interesting because they sometimes contain metal in the ink itself, and the way the MRI is done it can cause heating of the skin over the tattoo.”

(credit: Lynne Adkins)

Donald Brown (credit: Lynne Adkins)

Dr. Donald Brown, an MRI technologist at Abington-Jefferson Health adds, “A patient can have some irritation, some warming, maybe a burning sensation during the exam. They have any problems we can look at it and put a cold compress on it, and that helps alleviate some of the warming sensation.”

He says if necessary, the test can be delayed or cancelled.