A study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology in late July revealed a new obstacle MRI techs should keep an eye out for: magnetic eyelashes. The non-invasive cosmetic add-on poses a threat not only to image quality but also patient safety, according to the study.
The research team reported “significant artifacts” as a result of the ferromagnetic eyelashes in phantom MR images, as well as their actual detachment because of pull from the scanner’s magnet. Because of the study’s results, it has now been recommended that magnetic eyelashes be added to the standard MRI safety checks performed before a patient is scanned; it has also been suggested that imaging staff be warned not to wear this type of eyelash extension.
Eyelash extensions have been around for a long time, and have become increasingly popular in the last few years. A newer breed of extensions involves using miniscule magnets, which stick to one another, to attach eyelash extensions to a client’s natural upper row of eyelashes.
“It is important for radiologists to be aware of new devices and attachments that do not appear on the standard questionnaires but still present the risk of adverse events, rather than simply wait for these events to accumulate before acting,” wrote co-authors Alexander Mamourian and Einat Slonimsky, who are doctors in Penn State Health’s department of radiology.
The research team wanted to look into exactly what the potential adverse effects of these ferromagnetic lashes in an MRI machine would be. To do this, the researchers bought two sets of randomly-selected magnetic lashes and put them diagonally inside a phantom after attaching them to singular nylon strings. In an effort to stop the lashes from moving, the contraption was submerged in a container of distilled water and covered with a layer of plastic film.
The lashes then underwent MRI scans on a 3-tesla scanner with a protocol involving six unique imaging sequences; the team also included three types of aneurysm clips for comparison purposes. They did not scan any volunteers who were actually wearing magnetic lashes, in case wearing them could cause any palpable damage to the wearer.
When they compared the MR images, the team found that the artifact resulting from the magnetic lashes was significantly larger than any distortions resulting from the three aneurysm clips that were scanned.
“We have shown that these magnetic eyelashes will significantly degrade clinical images but can also present a hazard to the patient,” Mamourian and Slonimsky wrote. Because of this, they concluded, anyone undergoing MRI scans or any physicians or technicians who have access to scanner rooms should avoid wearing them as well.