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What’s New in the Patient Safety World

September 2019

New MRI Hazard: Magnetic Eyelashes



Prior to performance of magnetic resonance imaging patients are screened for the presence of metallic or ferromagnetic items that might be safety hazards because they can migrate in the presence of a strong magnetic field or become heated and result in burns. They may also produce artifacts that interfere with interpretation of studies. Still other devices might malfunction under exposure to the magnetic field.


Typical items screened for are jewelry, pacemakers, clips, implanted pumps, electrodes, wires, medication patches, and many others. But some more unusual items have received attention. In our April 2, 2019 Patient Safety Tip of the Week “Unexpected Events During MRI” we discussed tattoos, which may be made with color pigments containing ferrous particles that may interact with the magnetic resonance, potentially leading to burns.


Now here’s another new one: magnetic eyelashes! Magnetic eyelashes are a relatively new cosmetic product. Researchers recently used a phantom to study possible role that magnetic eyelashes might have in producing MRI image artifact (Slonimsky 2019). They found that the eyelashes could produce artifacts and reduce image quality, in addition to being pulled off by the magnetic field. In fact, the artifact created from the magnetic eyelashes was significantly larger than the distortions created by some aneurysm clips.


The researchers did not assess the risk of heating on these eyelashes because they were using a phantom. However, the reason they chose to study this on a phantom rather than a human volunteer was that they were concerned the eyelashes could heat significantly and cause burns.


The authors strongly recommend inserting a line about magnetic eyelashes on the MRI safety questionnaire and adding stops in the screening system to prevent the entry of anyone with these lashes, including staff, into the MRI scanner room.



Some of our prior columns on patient safety issues related to MRI:






Slonimsky E, Mamourian A. Magnetic Eyelashes: A New Source of MRI Artifacts. American Journal of Roentgenology 2019;: 1-3 Posted online on 24 Jul 2019.





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