MRI Safety Week July 26 – August 1, 2021

The last week in July is universally recognized as “MR Safety Week,” inspired by the anniversary and 2001 tragic MRI-related death of Michael Colombini, age 6, resulting from a steel oxygen cylinder being brought into the MRI room during his exam. The initial goal of this week was to prevent such a tragedy from happening again and has expanded into a week-long event giving us a chance to refresh our safety education and highlight some of the issues we all face in the MR environment.


Given that ‘magnetic’ is the first part of the name, many people know that MRI scanners attract magnetizable metals to them, potentially with alarming force. But do you know the other risk(s) that our staff actively manage to help keep MRI participants, patients and workers safe? See if you can pick out the other risk (or risks) that is (are) particular to MRI…


  • An MRI can act on your inner-ear and give you a sense of vertigo / make you dizzy.
  • MRI’s magnetic fields can cause non-MRI-friendly mechanical medication pumps to malfunction, potentially delivering too much, or too little medication.
  • During MRI imaging, energies deposited into the patient’s body can slightly elevate their core temperature.
  • During MRI imaging, certain electromagnetic pulses have been known to ‘trick’ implanted pacemakers into delivering inappropriate & potentially dangerous ‘corrective’ shocks.
  • During MRI imaging, some wires in the tube with the patient can heat up and burn the MRI patient.
  • During MRI imaging, sometimes electrical currents will flow through the patient’s body, concentrating in small spots where the patient will develop burns.
  • Implanted objects made out of magnetizable metals can pull or tear the tissues that they’re next to when attracted by the MRI’s magnetic field.


If you read through them all, and had a hard time narrowing the list down to one or two, that’s probably because this is a bit of a trick question… all seven of the above items are real risks / hazards that come from MRI in addition to pulling metal objects across the room.

As always, if you ever have a question about the safety of an object in the MRI environment, please contact us. We are happy to help!

Elisa Medeiros, Manager, MRI Services

Morgan Brennan, MRI Technologist

Tanda Dumas, MRI Technologist

Johnny Hernandez, MRI Technologist

Skyler Sklenarik, IBRAiN intern

Content courtesy of Tobias Gilk and ISMRM