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Thread: Is it safe to have an MRI with a titanium plate in my leg?

  1. #1

    Is it safe to have an MRI with a titanium plate in my leg?

    This might seem like a silly question to many of you, but I have always been under the (mistaken?) impression that a metal implant makes it impossible to safely have an MRI scan.

    My new orthopedist recently ordered an MRI scan for me. I told him about the titanium plate in my left leg, and he said that wouldn't be a problem, but I'm sort of worried that he might have thought I was talking about the plate in my right leg, which was put there to repair a fracture, but has since been removed. The one in my left leg, which I got about ten years ago after an osteotomy, is still there.

    Admittedly, I can't remember whether or not a doctor ever actually told me I shouldn't get into an MRI machine with that plate in my leg. But a friend of mine recently took his three-year-old daughter for an MRI, and he told me he had a metal splinter in his finger from a mishap at work, which was ripped out while he was holding his daughter's hand through the scan.

    Also, there was an episode of House, M.D. on TV here two weeks ago, in which a woman who had three pins in her leg from a car accident was put into the MRI machine. She had neglected to tell the doctors about that accident, and the pins tore through her skin. Of course, that's just television, so I don't know how much stock to put in it. But it has me a little worried.

    Can someone clarify this for me, please?

  2. #2
    I would call the diagnostic imaging department at the hospital (or wherever you would likely be going for an MRI) and ask them directly.

    Re your friend's splinter experience: that is freaky! I've always been amazed that amalgam fillings and metal cap bases are okay in the machine.

  3. #3
    Senior Member flicka's Avatar
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    Titanium isn't magnetic and won't be problem. The last MRI I had, the tech pulled me out & told me I have a surgical staple in my spinal area and I should never have a MRI again.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member jschism's Avatar
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    surgical implants should be stainless, which is not magnetic. if you have ever worked in a resteraunt, that's why the food inspector carries a magnet to test prep tables and such.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Tim C.'s Avatar
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    I've multiple MRI's

    with the damn titanium cage in my neck, and I have nothing to show from it.
    At least I thought I'd get a magnetic neck out of it.
    Nah, this idea was busted, back to the annals of hypochondria. (Sp?)

  6. #6
    I have rods in my neck and a greenfield filter, not sure whats it made of and I have had of tons of mri's.
    Your perspective is your reality,but that dosen't make it real.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Saranoya View Post
    This might seem like a silly question to many of you, but I have always been under the (mistaken?) impression that a metal implant makes it impossible to safely have an MRI scan.

    My new orthopedist recently ordered an MRI scan for me. I told him about the titanium plate in my left leg, and he said that wouldn't be a problem, but I'm sort of worried that he might have thought I was talking about the plate in my right leg, which was put there to repair a fracture, but has since been removed. The one in my left leg, which I got about ten years ago after an osteotomy, is still there.

    Admittedly, I can't remember whether or not a doctor ever actually told me I shouldn't get into an MRI machine with that plate in my leg. But a friend of mine recently took his three-year-old daughter for an MRI, and he told me he had a metal splinter in his finger from a mishap at work, which was ripped out while he was holding his daughter's hand through the scan.

    Also, there was an episode of House, M.D. on TV here two weeks ago, in which a woman who had three pins in her leg from a car accident was put into the MRI machine. She had neglected to tell the doctors about that accident, and the pins tore through her skin. Of course, that's just television, so I don't know how much stock to put in it. But it has me a little worried.

    Can someone clarify this for me, please?
    I agree with what others have said, i.e. that it is all right for you to get the MRI. It is true that MRI machines exposes you to a strong magnetic field. However, most modern surgically implanted devices are now made of titanium, which is non-magnetic. Even if there is some iron in the plate, the problem is not so much the danger of the metal moving but the distortion of the MRI image by the metal.

    By the way, if indeed the House MD show showed a case of a woman who had pins "tearing out" when her leg was put into an MRI, I find that reprehensible and somebody should make a complaint to the show. Even if the pins are made of iron, the magnetic field of standard MRI's should not strong enough to "tear out" pins that are embedded in bone. The medical advisors of the show should have corrected that.

    I remember having quite of lot of discussions on this site with people who have bullets in their spinal cord and worries whether they should get MRI. After extensive literature searches on the subject, I concluded that it is safe to put people who have bullets near in their spinal cord into MRI but that people who have bullets in their spinal cord should be careful.

    Wise.

  8. #8
    Thank you everyone for putting my mind at ease. I guess the House episode was just taking a little creative license in the name of achieving a dramatic effect, then .

    Actually, it kind of worked as a plot point, too. The idea was that anyone who would willingly be subjected to an MRI while having a metal implant must be suicidal, which became an important clue for House and his team in their ongoing attempts to diagnose the patient. You can see what had me worried.
    Last edited by Saranoya; 04-09-2011 at 01:37 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    While the titanium will not cause any harm when you have an MRI done, it may impact the results. Ryan had a MRI done of his left knee a couple of weeks ago. He has titanium from the plates in his hips that connect rods down both femurs to just above the knee area. His left leg also has rods from just below the knee are to just above the ankle. Both his legs were crushed in the same accident that caused his SCI.

    We went to see the ortho doc on Thursday and the images are distorted from all the titanium. We knew this was possible before the test was done. This is really the only downside to having a MRI done in the vicinity of titanium. If htey are looking at another area, you should get decent images. --eak

  10. #10
    Senior Member garyv's Avatar
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    From my MRI with metal in my back they do a few things, they lower the magnetic field and just take longer to make the film. When I was getting mine the rods in my back where getting really warm and they would stop every so often to check on me and ask about my back as well. so metal does make a difference but they do have ways to get around it..
    Gary

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