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Thread: Harrington: Any trouble taking an MR (because of metal)?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Harrington: Any trouble taking an MR (because of metal)?

    I had my surgery (Harrington fusion) years ago, in 1967 at the age of 16. In the late 1970's or early 1980's, i heard for the first time about magnetic resonance (MR) imagery. But this (at least at the time) could not be used for patients with metal in their bodies. Metal was a contraindication because of the magnetism, in other words. At the time, I didn't have any condition requiring an MR. But I was scared. Maybe sometime in the future, I would need an MR but couldn't have one, and then I would have to go through some invasive, painful diagostic procedure instead. Just the sort of thing that MR was supposed to prevent.

    I would like to add that my Harrington rods have never set off a metal detector at an airport. In other words, not very magnetic. So why should they be a problem?

    Fortunately, my impression now is that metal implants no longer prevent the taking of MR images. Maybe they have liberalised, or maybe they make better MR machines that take just as good (maybe better) pictures but use less magnetism. They don't seem to talk about metal as a contraindication any more.

    I have even had an MR taken, of my knee. It was taken using an MR machine which only surrounds the leg, not where the Harrington rods are.

    But what happens if I need an MR of some other part of the body (where the rods are) next time? Anyone with experience/knowledge in this area?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern California

    While an MRI will produce poor imaging results in the area of the rods, it is perfectly safe to have MRIs with your rods. The only metal objects that cause problems are those that are free floating.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Smile Thank you for the answer

    Thank you so much for your answer, which pretty much confirmed my impression in recent years. The thing about "free floating" also helped me to understand exactly when MRI's and metal are dangerous, and when they are not.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    At this point I've had literally dozens of MRIs and mostly they were uneventful (remember I'm pre-surgical).

    The few times I've slipped up, though, I sure didn't need to be reminded! I could FEEL it. Thinking of the time I wore an underwire bra into the tube and the other time I left bobby pins in my hair. They were SCALDING in short order, and they had to stop the test until I took them off.

    That's not to mention the very first time, when they put me through hrs of CT scan brain "slices' beforehand to make sure I didn't have any metal fragments in my eyes (I indicated I'd done welded sculpture). That was just a precaution, of course.

    Can't imagine having an MRI with magnetic rods. According to what I've read, the grade of stainless steel determines the degree that it's magnetic. Wonder what grade those rods are. Whatever, I'm sure they are very careful in the instructions they leave patients with - judging by the hullabaloo raised by my welding history.
    Not all diagnosed (still having tests and consults) but so far:
    Ehler-Danlos (hyper-mobility) syndrome, 69 - somehow,
    main curve L Cobb 60, compensating T curve ~ 30
    Flat back, marked lumbar kyphosis (grade?) Spondilolisthesis - everyone gives this a different grade too. Cervical stenosis op'd 3-07, minimally invasive

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    A few months ago, I was scheduled to have an MRI. Right before it was to be done, the tech informed me that it would not be safe to have it done because of my pelvic embolization coils. These are stainless steel coils I had implanted a few years ago due to painful pelvic varicosities. So, later the doctor ordered a CT scan instead.

    There was some question before this, however, as to whether or not the coils were MRI compatible. The doctor who implanted them said they were; the tech said otherwise.

    The problem with CTs is the high dose of radiation which the patient receives.


    age: 60
    diagnosed age 13: no treatment
    47 degree thoracic
    85 degree thoracolumbar
    surgery scheduled for Aug. 30 and Sept. 2
    A/P T-1 to pelvis with osteotomies & cages: proposed

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