Who can have an MRI scan?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is very safe and most people can have the procedure , including pregnant women and babies.

However, there are some instances where an MRI scan may not be recommended, because the strong magnets used during the scan can affect any metal implants or fragments in your body.

Before having an MRI scan, you should tell medical staffif:

  • you think you have any metal in your body
  • you're pregnant or breastfeeding

There's no evidence to suggest MRI scans pose a risk during pregnancy. However,as a precaution, MRI scans aren't usually recommended during pregnancy, particularly in the first three months.

Metal implants or fragments

Having something metallic in your body doesn't necessarily mean you can't have an MRI scan, but it's important for medical staff carrying out the scanto be aware ofit.

They can decide on a case-by-case basis if thereare any risks, or if further measures need to be taken to ensure the scan is as safe as possible. For example, it may be possible to make a pacemaker or defibrillator MRI-safe, or to monitor your heart rhythm during the procedure.

Ifyou're unsure about any metal fragments in your body, you mayneed an X-ray .

Some examples of metal implants or fragments include:

  • a pacemaker an electrical device used to control an irregular heartbeat
  • an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) a similar device to a pacemaker that uses electrical shocks to regulate heartbeats
  • metal plates, wires, screws or rods usedduring surgery for bone fractures
  • a nerve stimulator an electrical implant used to treatlong-term nerve pain
  • a cochlear implant a device similar to a hearing aidthat's surgically implanted inside the ear
  • a drug pump implant used to treatlong-term pain by delivering painkilling medication directly to an area of the body, such as the lower back
  • brain aneurysm clips small metal clips used to seal blood vessels in the brain that would otherwise be at risk of rupturing (bursting)
  • metallic fragments in or near your eyes or blood vessels (common in people who do welding or metalwork for a living)
  • prosthetic (artificial) metal heart valves
  • penile implants used to treat erectile dysfunction (impotence)
  • eye implants such as small metal clips used to hold the retina in place
  • an intrauterine device (IUD) a contraceptive device made of plasticand copper that fits inside the womb
  • artificial joints such as those used for a hip replacement or knee replacement
  • dental fillings and bridges
  • tubal ligation clips used in female sterilisation
  • surgical clips or staples used to close wounds after an operation


Some tattoo ink contains traces of metal, but most tattoos are safe in an MRI scanner. Tell the radiographer immediately if you feel any discomfort or heatin your tattoo during the scan.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 29 Nov 2016