Everyone knows technology is always changing. That’s why we replace our cell phones every two years, right? Well, in an era filled to the brim with advanced electric technology, did you also know the technology in our clothes is evolving too? Evolving style trends are easy to see. With the removal of the acid wash jeans and the resurgence of the fanny pack, it’s simple to notice something has definitely changed over the years. What might be more difficult to notice is that the very fabrics and materials that create our stylish clothes have also been altered through time.
Nowadays, the very strands that make up your clothes could be made from almost anything. Cotton, wool, artificial blend, plastic and metal fibers can all be included in a variety of modern fabrics. Yes, you heard right, even metal fibers are making an appearance in our everyday outfits. These fibers are typically used in clothing designed to reduce sweating and/or smells. Oftentimes we find these fibers in athletic attire or camouflage, but more and more designers are utilizing this newer technology in their everyday wear. The worst part is these fibers make up such a small percentage of the overall fabric that they are often not mentioned by name (i.e. silver or copper) on the tag, but rather simply labeled as “sweat-resistant” or “moisture-wicking.”
This new fashionable technology can and does cause issues for any patient receiving an MRI. Incidents at other hospitals have shown us when certain metals are in the MRI machine for a period they can heat up over time. If these metals (such as metal fibers in clothes) are touching the skin, then burning could occur. Awake patients would be able to tell the technologist they were heating up, but someone under anesthesia may not feel the heat until they woke up after the exam.
Well, what do we do now? To prevent any possible metal fiber injury we are changing all of our MRI patients into MRI-safe scrubs or PJs. We allow patients to keep wearing their underwear (as long as they are not made from a moisture-wicking fabric), but all other items of clothing and accessories must be removed. In the past, we had allowed patients to wear their own comfortable clothing from home, but with metal fibers being so common in athletic and casual wear, changing every patient is the only sure way to prevent any issues. It does take a few extra minutes and adds an additional trip to our MRI changing room, but overall this new step does not impede your appointment too much. We apologize for any inconvenience, but the next time you or your child is having an MRI, changing is required for safety.