Why Tattooed Patients Must be Cautious of MRI Imaging Equipment

by | Dec 4, 2020 | MRI

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Patients come in different biological makeups, which can complicate the kind of treatment they should receive. Additionally, their medical history will also affect what medication they can receive if they have pre-existing conditions. This is why it’s necessary to uncover what a patient is unknowingly hiding for them to get the right diagnosis.

People’s dated view on tattoos was that it related to criminal activities or convicts themselves. However, the masses’ perspective on tattooed individuals is gradually changing. Recently, the general public is becoming more accepting of tattoos as an avenue to express a person’s individuality. However, there are still some medical risks that come with having one, especially in delicate parts of the body.


How bad tattoos can lead to complicated patients

People who receive a tattoo from non-professionals can end up with potential complications in their bodies. It can cause the introduction of ink to their lymph nodes, leading to cancer-like symptoms that may be difficult to trace. There may even be cases when people can have an allergic reaction to a particular ink product. According to new research, there’s also another risk of having tattoos that can mess up Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans.


What’s dangerous with having tattoos?

Tattoo artists use a fine-tip needle to deposit ink down underneath the dermis and epidermis. It’s an invasive procedure that doesn’t come without its risk of enduring pain for the customer. However, the needle isn’t the biggest concern about tattoos being a health risk. Different tattoo artists use ink from various manufacturers. Some ink products can contain lead, cobalt, chromium, copper, and nickel. These can hold ferrous pigments that can complicate an MRI’s processes.


How do tattoos affect imaging equipment?

Imaging equipment like MRI scanners are necessary, as they help to identify any abnormalities in a person’s body. Doctors request an MRI scan if you have symptoms that point to brain injuries, bone damage, developmental illnesses, and more. The magnetic field forces protons in the patient’s body to align and spin out of equilibrium. Using strong magnetic fields, an MRI generates images of the body’s organs to allow doctors to diagnose potential anomalies.

Since MRI uses powerful magnets, people with tattoos that contain ferrous ink can have adverse effects on the MRI’s magnetic fields. This often results in patients experiencing burning or swelling on their tattooed body parts.


Are all tattooed patients in danger during MRI scans?

Statistically, millions of people worldwide have tattoos and receive MRI scans without experiencing dangerous aftereffects. However, the danger of tattoos may not lie in the physical condition of the client. The greater concern is how ferrous inks in tattoos can compromise the images developed through the MRI scan.

There’s a potential for ferrous ink to make MRI images unreadable by imprinting artifacts on them. This makes diagnosing conditions particularly difficult, especially if the tattoo is on the surface above an organ. The doctor will likely prescribe different means to analyze a person’s body, which most likely involves invasive procedures.

Unfortunately, physicians have no say on what their patients will want to put on their bodies. However, patients do have the option of confirming their tattoo artists’ ink ingredients before they receive a tattoo.



Although tattoos are generally harmless for patients, it can compromise the results of their MRI scans. Having quality imaging equipment is necessary for all healthcare institutions. This is why it’s required to have a functioning MRI that will provide clear images for your physicians to analyze.

If you want to ensure that your MRI is working properly, our trained technicians can diagnose your imaging equipment. DirectMed Parts is a US-based repair company that offers a high quality of service comparable to your OEM. Contact our team today!

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