Answer to Question #10931 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Medical and Dental Patient Issues — MRI

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


I have injured my ankle and the doctor recommended magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) because the x ray didn't show any obvious fractures. I am 69 years old and prediabetic. My brother has been diagnosed with vascular disease and I have severe varicose veins. My ankle is swollen and slightly discolored. I am concerned that the magnetics might dislodge a clot and release it into my circulatory system. Is there any history of this happening?


The magnetic fields from the MRI will not cause any clots that may be present to be dislodged. This is because the magnetic susceptibilities (i.e., the degree of torque or "twisting" of a material in response to an applied magnetic field) of the majority of human tissues is weak or very weak. MRI is one of several methods that have been used safely for many years to evaluate the presence and extent of thrombosis (clots).  
Jerrold T. Bushberg, PhD, DABMP, FAAPM
Clinical Professor, Radiology and Radiation Oncology

Answer posted on 24 March 2014. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.