One of the readers at the New York Times asked a question regarding the safety of M.R.I. procedures. The question was answered by Karen Weintraub and reported on in the Ask Well section of the times. Here is a synopsis of the response regarding M.R.I. safety.
M.R.I. or magnetic resonance imaging is considered to be a very safe procedure with minimal risks. There is no radiation produced during this type of procedure. X-rays and PET scans on the other hand, produce radiation when they are used to create an image of your body. This is why you are often given a heavy lead jacket to protect you against the radiation from the X-rays.
There are some safety concerns that should be taken into account when somebody is getting an M.R.I. done. For example, a person that has metal implants or metallic shrapnel in their body is not a candidate for an M.R.I. scan. An M.R.I. machine is like a giant magnet and you can guess what it will do to metallic objects within the body. It can move them out of place or cause metallic pacemakers to malfunction which can be very dangerous.
In such instances, an M.R.I. is not feasible and the person will have to undergo a different kind of scanning procedure. Besides people with implants, medical devices or shrapnel, there is another risk that is minimal with an M.R.I. As stated previously, an M.R.I. uses a powerful magnet to create an image of your body. This powerful magnet is strong enough to pull in metallic objects such as beds, chairs and other items that may be lying around in an office or hospital.
There have been cases where objects were pulled into the M.R.I. machine because they were not secured or removed. With the right precautions, an M.R.I. scan is one of the safest and most effective ways to look inside our bodies.