Do Piercings Affect MRI Scans?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on March 22, 2023
    Last Updated: April 7, 2023

MRI scans are a widely used diagnostic tool in medicine, but they can be affected by various factors.

MRI scans use strong magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of internal body structures. Metallic objects can be attracted by these magnetic fields and cause distortions in the images. This can pose a significant risk to the patient’s safety during the MRI scan.

In this article, we will discuss whether piercings can affect MRI scans and what precautions you need to take if you have piercings.

Piercings and MRI Scans

 Piercings are often made of metal, which can interfere with the magnetic fields used in MRI scans. As a result, the presence of a piercing can distort the MRI image, leading to inaccurate diagnosis and potentially risking the patient’s health.

The amount of interference caused by a piercing depends on several factors, such as the size, shape, and location of the piercing. Piercings that are larger or made of materials with a higher magnetic susceptibility, such as iron or steel, are more likely to cause image distortions. Piercings located close to the area of the body being scanned can also cause greater distortion than those located further away.

The strength of the magnetic field used in the MRI scan is another crucial factor that can influence the level of interference caused by the piercing. Higher-strength MRI machines, such as 3-Tesla machines, can generate stronger magnetic fields, making them more likely to cause distortion.

The potential risks associated with piercings during MRI scans emphasize the importance of providing accurate medical history to your healthcare provider. If you have any piercings, it is essential to inform your healthcare provider before undergoing an MRI scan to avoid potential complications.

To reduce the risks of interference, the healthcare provider may recommend removing the piercing before the MRI scan. 

It is also important to note that the risks associated with piercings and MRI scans are not limited to the time of the scan. Even after the MRI scan, the magnetic fields may interact with the metal piercing, causing discomfort, irritation, and even damage to the tissue.

Can an MRI Scanner Rip Out A Piercing?

The possibility of an MRI scanner ripping out a piercing is a concern for many people who have piercings and need to undergo an MRI scan. While the risk of a piercing being ripped out during an MRI scan is rare, it is not entirely impossible.

During an MRI scan, the patient is placed on a table that moves into a large tube-like structure that generates strong magnetic fields. If the piercing is made of a magnetic material, it can be attracted by the magnetic field and move rapidly towards the scanner. If the piercing is not firmly fixed in place, it can be ripped out due to the force of the magnetic field.

However, it is important to note that modern MRI scanners are designed to prevent such accidents. The patient is asked to remove all metal objects before entering the scanning room, and the healthcare provider checks for any metallic objects that may have been missed during the screening process.

Furthermore, patients are closely monitored during the MRI scan, and if any unusual movements or sensations are detected, the scan can be stopped immediately to prevent injury.

What If I Can’t Take My Piercing Out?

In some cases, it may not be possible or safe to remove a piercing before an MRI scan. For example, removing certain types of piercings, such as tongue or genital piercings, may cause discomfort or bleeding. In such cases, the healthcare provider may advise against removing the piercing and recommend alternative precautions to ensure the safety and accuracy of the MRI scan.

One option is to cover the piercing with a non-metallic object or tape. The healthcare provider may provide you with a non-magnetic cover for the piercing to ensure it does not interfere with the MRI scan. These covers are typically made of materials such as plastic, silicone, or nylon and are designed to be safe for use in MRI scans.

Depending on the medical need, another alternative is to use a different imaging technique that does not rely on magnetic fields. CT scans, for example, use X-rays to create detailed images of internal body structures and do not generate magnetic fields that can interfere with piercings.

It is essential to inform the healthcare provider if you cannot remove your piercing before the MRI scan so that they can recommend the best course of action. If the piercing is not removable, it is essential to be honest about this, as failing to do so can compromise the safety and accuracy of the MRI scan.


In conclusion, piercings can affect MRI scans and can lead to incorrect diagnoses. It is essential to inform your healthcare provider if you have piercings before undergoing an MRI scan, and follow their advice on what precautions to take. By taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure that your MRI scan is accurate and safe.

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