Tattoos and MRI Scans

Date: Sun, 2 Jul 2000 12:48:11 -0400
Subject: tattoos for Jews [NOT!]
To: [email protected]

I liked your page. You are performing a very good deed by this information and warning.

Another health reason against tattoos that not too many people are aware of:

If the ink used for the tattoo contains metallic salts [which is what is used for most today, because they retain color longer and can be made in brighter richer colors] the tattooed person can *never* have a MRI scan, which can mean the difference between life or death in certain diagnoses.
(Note from the webmaster: Please see the note at bottom of this page.) This may mean little to a young, healthy person, but they will likely regret it when they are older.

In a MRI scan, the metallic salts become so activated, the tattoo can become so hot that the flesh begins to burn in that area. Tres chic, huh?

By the way, the medical "tattoos" used for a necessity to aid in certain radiation and chemotherapy do NOT contain metallic salts, since eventual fading is preferred in this case.


Hi P.,

I'm glad you liked the page.

Could you please tell me:

1) What is a MRI scan is and when is it done?

2) Are you are doctor? What is the source of your information?

Thank you very much.

Hi. Thank you for your responding to my email.

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging -- this is a type of medical scan which can show internal detail far better than a standard x-ray, and it much safer than exploratory surgery.

I'm not a doctor; I used to work as a medical technician and my husband currently is a medical transcriber. My information is based on experiences at our work.

I understand that with a website such as yours, it is essential to have the most accurate information possible, so I am including some additional websites regarding MRI and tattoos.

I'm sorry if some of the pages go on a bit before getting to the details about the consequences of tattoos during an MRI scan, but I thought you'd rather have access to the entire source, rather than having me just send excerpts. After all, you don't know me -- I could be just some nut case or something, eh?

Hope this is helpful.


Thank you very much for the information! I appreciate it.

Note from the webmaster: The following is from the U. S. Food and Drug Administration web site:
"There have been reports of people with tattoos or permanent makeup who experienced swelling or burning in the affected areas when they underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This seems to occur only rarely and apparently without lasting effects."

"There also have been reports of tattoo pigments interfering with the quality of the image. This seems to occur mainly when a person with permanent eyeliner undergoes MRI of the eyes. Mascara may produce a similar effect. The difference is that mascara is easily removable."

"The cause of these complications is uncertain. Some have theorized that they result from an interaction with the metallic components of some pigments."

"However, the risks of avoiding an MRI when your doctor has recommended one are likely to be much greater than the risks of complications from an interaction between the MRI and tattoo or permanent makeup. Instead of avoiding an MRI, individuals who have tattoos or permanent makeup should inform the radiologist or technician of this fact in order to take appropriate precautions, avoid complications, and assure the best results."