What You Can’t See Could Hurt You, However...
By Sue Kost, MD

As I’m sure is the same with many of you, I have sedated many children for dressing changes and many children for MRI scans. Occasionally the twain shall meet. 

I was feeling pretty proud of myself for catching a silver-impregnated dressing (hidden underneath a Telfa pad) on one of my sedated patients during the final zone 3 screen, which had been missed in the pre-screening. The techs agreed that it was a problem, and we waited for the primary service to come and change the dressing to one without silver. Caused about a 15-minute delay, but saved the unconscious patient from a potential burn, right? Likely wrong. 

According to a literature search I did after the fact, silver-impregnated dressings cause minimal temperature change (0.2-1.8 o C) and no appreciable artifact, even in a 3T 1 (and a research 7T) 2 magnet. 

So if you’re ever in the position to save a patient an unnecessary dressing change, remember my story. Screen carefully, but base your safety decisions on evidence.

  1. Bailey JK, Sammet S, et al. MRI compatibility of silver based wound dressings. Burns 2018 Dec; 44(8):1940-1946.
  2. Chaudhry Z, Sammet S, et al. Assessing the safety and compatibility of silver based wound dressings in a magnetic resonance environment. Burns 2009 Dec; 35(8):1080-5.

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