Yoga Pants and MRI Scans: Skipping the Athleisure for Safe, Comfortable Procedures

While MRI scans are among the safest diagnostic imaging procedures available, patients must avoid wearing certain clothes during the procedure — and it turns out that some types of yoga pants may be among them. In rare cases, patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans have been burned by yoga pants and other athleisure wear containing metal threads. While most screening questionnaires ask patients to remove jewelry and clothing containing metal, many patients are unaware that their clothes have metal threads.

For instance, Jenn Marr, a patient undergoing an MRI, started to feel extremely uncomfortable during a scan, reports Global News Canada.

“I was getting a burning sensation so strong that I had to press the emergency button for them to stop the machine and pull me out,” she said. After explaining that her legs felt like they were on fire, Marr removed the yoga pants and re-entered the MRI machine. Everything went smoothly and Marr did not experience the burning sensation again.

An 11-year-old patient had a similar experience in 2012. She was undergoing a scan to track her scoliosis. She was sedated during the imaging, and when she awoke, she felt a burning sensation on her back. When doctors investigated, they found a second-degree burn caused by an undershirt with metallic threads.

That case led to an article in the American Society of Neuroradiology, which urged imaging facilities to make changes to their policies. Now, many hospitals are taking that advice and requiring patients to wear cotton hospital gowns during scans. By asking all scan recipients to remove clothing, hospitals can prevent accidental burns due to metallic threads.

MRI scans are extremely safe with appropriate precautions in place.

For years, doctors thought that patients with pacemakers or other cardiac devices should avoid MRI scans because of the danger of magnets. After exhaustive studies, researchers found that the scans can be given safely as long as certain procedures were followed. It turns out that for yoga pants or pacemakers, MRI techs simply need to take precautions.

“Because you’re going into a magnet,” Sara Lamothe, a MRI Technologist at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa, Ontario told Global News Canada. “You’re putting metal into a magnet. It can actually react and spark or heat up and burn them.”

Even if your imaging facility doesn’t require that you change clothes, all of them will provide hospital gowns upon request. Switching out your clothes for a cotton gown ensures that you won’t have any issues during an important medical scan, and that gives you one less thing to worry about.