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The Effects of Magnetic Resonance Imaging on Surgical Staples: An Experimental Analysis

Gayton, J. Christopher MD; Sensiba, Paul MD; Imbrogno, Brian F. MD; Venkatarayappa, Indresh MD; Tsatalis, James MD; Prayson, Michael J. MD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: May 2011 - Volume 70 - Issue 5 - p 1279-1281
doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181de3855
Original Article

Background: Surgical staples are commonplace in repairing surgical incisions. Staples allow for expeditious closure and removal compared with suture materials. However, there are clinical concerns when obtaining a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan with staples present. This study examined two issues related to MRI scanning in the presence of surgical staples: skin surface temperature change and staple displacement.

Methods: Thirty pig feet had 3-cm surgical incisions repaired with five surgical staples. Once placed, each skin staple position was marked for later referencing. A surface temperature laser device recorded prescan skin surface temperature. A 35-minute MRI scan was performed with a 1.5-Tesla magnet and standard knee coil for each pig foot. Immediately afterward, the skin surface temperature and displacement measurements were recorded. The paired t test was used to analyze temperature change from prescan to postscan.

Results: The prescan mean temperature was 16.45°C (standard deviation: 0.70°C), and the range was 14.60°C to 18.20°C. After scanning, the mean temperature was 16.02°C (standard deviation: 0.63°C), and the range was 15.00°C to 17.60°C. The decrease of 0.43°C in skin surface temperature was statistically significant (p = 0.001). No change in staple position was measurable or evident by visual inspection for any of the pig feet.

Conclusion: This study found no increase in skin surface temperature or displacement of staple position after a standard extremity MRI scan. Based on our findings, MRI scanning in the presence of stainless steel surgical staples seems safe.

From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Miami Valley Hospital, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.

Submitted for publication January 14, 2010.

Accepted for publication March 17, 2010.

Presented at the Mid-America Orthopaedic Association April 2008, Orlando, Florida and the Ohio Orthopaedic Society, May 2007, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Address for reprints: J. Christopher Gayton, MD, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Wright State University, 30 East Apple Street, Suite 2200, Dayton, OH 45409; email:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.