The use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has increased 20% over the past 3 years, with well over a million scans performed each year in Australia and New Zealand.(1) Burns and thermal injuries are the most common adverse event related to magnetic resonance imaging.(2)
A literature review of burns injuries secondary to MRI was conducted. English language articles and case reports were included in the review
MRI burns can result from the induction of electrical current from metallic objects in contact with the patient’s skin. Electrocardiogram leads, buttons, zippers and even face mask clips have been associated with burn injuries.(3-5) Recent reports have also implicated textiles with trace metallic content as potential causes for burns.(6) There is also a growing understanding that skin-to-skin contact can also form a conductive loop, leading to deposition of energy into the skin and deep tissues potentially leading to burns.(7) While often these injuries can be managed non-operatively, there are reports of patients requiring serial debridement and skin grafting or even amputation.(8, 9)
MRI burns are avoidable potentially serious iatrogenic injuries. Given the increasing use of MRI vigilance must be exercised when assessing patient’s risk of burns injuries with special care to remove any metallic objects. Reports of burns from metal face mask clips are particular pertinent in a post- COVID-19 era.