FDA Cautions Use of Face Masks with Metal During MRIs Poses Patient Safety Risk

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions that patients can be injured if wearing face masks with metal features or coating during a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) exam. As outlined in an agency alert, “metal parts, like nose pieces sometimes called nose clips or wires, nanoparticles (ultrafine particles), or antimicrobial coating that may contain metal (such as silver or copper), may become hot and burn the patient during an MRI.” The warning comes after a report that a patient’s face was burned during an MRI scan of the neck, with the injury shape consistent with that of the face mask.

To prevent adverse events, the FDA instructs healthcare personnel responsible for performing MRI exams to do the following:

  • confirm a patient’s face mask has no metal before an MRI exam;
  • advise patients to use an alternative mask if the absence of metal is in question;
  • continue to practice MRI safety protocols, including screening for metallic objects; and
  • report all related injuries, such as burns, via the MedWatch Voluntary Reporting Form.

Providers can further ensure patient safety by supplying face masks without metal to individuals who undergo an MRI.

With the ongoing use of face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA will continue to monitor developments related to the issue of metal in masks and communicate emerging information, including adverse events, to healthcare professionals.

Policyholders are advised to review ongoing FDA guidance related to COVID-19 and to visit MLMIC’s resource page for important information on navigating the pandemic, including the latest developments in medicine and government.