Friday, March 6, 2009

Warning: Don't wear medication patches during MRI

Need an MRI scan? Tell the doctor if you use a nicotine patch or any other medication patch - or you'll risk a burn during the MRI. But the Food and Drug Administration just discovered that some are missing a key safety warning about MRI compatibility. More than a quarter of the 60 different drug patches sold contain traces of aluminum or other metals in their backing, the part that makes them stick to the skin, estimated Dr. Sandra Kweder, the FDA's deputy drug director.

You can't see the metal; the patch even may appear completely clear. But affected patches contain just enough metal to conduct electricity, meaning a patch worn during an MRI scan can overheat and cause a skin burn similar to a bad sunburn. The FDA recently learned of a few patients who suffered patch burns, none severe. On Thursday, the FDA issued a public health advisory: Tell your doctor about any medication patches, so the professional can decide which should be removed before an MRI, how soon before the scan, and when it can be reapplied. "If there's any uncertainty, just don't wear it in the machine," Kweder said. "It's just the smart thing to do."
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