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Masks Containing Metal Could Cause Burns During MRI, FDA Warns

Metal parts include bendable nose clips, staples on the headband, nanoparticles, or antimicrobial coating

man wearing medical mask

TUESDAY, Dec. 8, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who wear face masks with metal parts or coatings during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could suffer facial burns, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Monday.

The metal parts such as bendable nose clips or wires, staples on the headband, nanoparticles, or antimicrobial coating that may contain metal (such as silver or copper) can heat up during an MRI. The FDA recently received a report about a patient's face being burned by metal in a face mask worn during an MRI.

"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," an agency news release stated.

Patients may not be able to tell if their face mask has metal in it, and should ask staff performing the MRI to confirm that the face mask is free of metal, the FDA said. If the absence of metal cannot be confirmed and a patient needs to wear a face mask during an MRI, an alternative face mask confirmed to be free of metal should be used, the agency advised. It encouraged health care providers who perform MRI exams to provide face masks without metal to patients having an MRI.

Incidents where patients who are burned by a face mask during an MRI should be reported to the FDA. Doing so could provide information that helps improve patient safety.

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