ThermaCare HeatWrap Dangerous In MRI?

Yesterday I was provided a copy of an anonymized MRI accident / incident report which described how an MRI patient wearing a ThermaCare HeatWrap (something of a self-warming patch for muscle aches) had the wrap pulled off of them by the magnetic attraction of the MRI.

ThermaCare HeatWrap

ThermaCare HeatWrap Products Contain Iron And May Be Drawn Into MRI Scanners

According to the report, this patient was not injured and the MR staff was able to successfully remove the wrap from the MRI magnet. But any time you have ferromagnetic materials flying through the air near patients and staff, there is the very real risk of injury. Not only to people, but also to a million-dollar MRI scanner!

And assuming that it didn’t go flying, if there’s enough iron in this product that there’s that possibility, there’s likely enough iron to create some significant spatial distortions in the general vicinity of the wrap. And if the little iron ‘nuggets’ were to escape the wrap material and get under the covers to the bore of the magnet, you could wind up with shim problems that require a service call to correct.

According to the ThermaCare website:

“Protected inside ThermaCare┬« HeatWraps are air-activated heat discs made of heat-generating materials (iron, charcoal, table salt and water).”

We’re in the process of testing the capabilities of the SAFESCAN┬« ferromagnetic detectors to detect these materials and I hope to have an update for you on this very soon.

In the meantime, whether you have the SAFESCAN┬« ferromagnetic screening products or not, please add these types of wraps to your ‘watch list’ of potentially dangerous materials to be kept out of your MRI suites.

Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director
Mednovus, Inc.

Click here for Tobias’ Twitter Profile

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