Don't Get Burned When Wearing a Medicine Patch


Before a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, patients are told to remove all metal objects they may be wearing. They are also asked whether they have any metal inside them. Things like pacemakers, prosthetic hips, or retained bullets and shrapnel may cause problems during the test.

This is because the strong magnetic field created by the scanning machine can cause metal objects to suddenly fly toward the scanning machine at high speed, possibly leading to injury. For example, not too long ago, a 6-year-old child suffered a skull fracture and bleeding in the brain after a metal oxygen tank flew across the room and hit him in the head during an MRI.

Most medicine patches should also be removed before the test to prevent burns. This includes nicotine patches, testosterone patches, birth control patches, nitroglycerine patches, motion sickness patches, and many others. Many patches have an aluminum backing, which can become very hot during an MRI. For example, several patients who were wearing a nicotine patch during an MRI developed redness and blistering (second degree burns) on the skin underneath the patch.

Before an MRI, always tell the technician if you are wearing a medicine patch. The technician will tell you whether it should be removed before the test.

Created on May 1, 2004

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