Zillah

Do tattoos ever act as a barrier to medical care?

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Thanks, @OutOfIdeas.

So I learned more. The radiology place now reports that they don't recall anything about waiting 2-3 months after getting a new large tattoo. I mentioned that the technician said they were following a researcher in the area, but today they told me it must have been something the technician did on his own time. Makes no sense, because the tech discussed my situation with the doc in the other room while I was there last week, waiting to get in the machine. Today she reports the doc denies that discussion happened. So that's an odd change of events.

While I was on hold today, they discussed again with the doc about how long I had to wait. His response today is different - that they will not scan me at all at that facility. They have a 3T scanner and will only scan me at another facility that has a 1.5T, which is a lower strength magnet. I asked how long it would be if I were to be able to use the 3T, and the woman helping me said, "Well never, or like a year or something." :/

So, I can get an MRI in a 1.5T scanner at any time. But never in a 3T scanner.

Hunh.

Anyone ever hear of this? i suppose "better safe than sorry" but it feels like they just aren't sure and are covering their butts.

Also, she said I was asked about tattoos. I wasn't. They had read the consent form to me over the phone and did not mention "eyeliner tattoos" either, although I later saw that on the consent form. So today she tells me that "tattoos" are in the form. No, I told her to look at the form. Then she says that "eyeliner tattoos are worse." So then why are you denying me for a "regular" tattoo and it's not even on the form??? I told her that they should change their consent form.

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This continues to bug me.

Attached is the relevant part of the consent form. The office person drew the slash after she read the consent form items to me over the phone when I scheduled the appointment. I got this copy when I arrived at the appointment. She did not read the eyeliner tattoo item to me - if she had, it would have reminded me to mention to her that I had a regular tattoo.

Also, after I was rejected for the scan, I pointed out the consent form item to the tech and he told me that there was a comma between "eyeliner" and "tattoos." Huh? I asked him to show me the comma. Then he tells me that he ALREADY asked me if I had a tattoo because that question was part of his procedure, and that I hadn't said anything. HUH??? Soooo, he was trying to CYA that he forgot to follow procedure by asking me that question.

All of this came up when I was about to enter the scanner, and I remembered I had wanted to ask if they used a wet towel or ice packs for tattoos, like I had read online. That was the first mention of "tattoo" at all, and started the entire "what, you have a tattoo?" discussion.

I will try to schedule the 1.5T scanner today.

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Yeah, so there is no comma. Just sayin'.

I wonder if you can contact your insurance provider as they may have a health care concierge or a nurses on call program. Also wondering what the MRI manufacturer(s) say. This can't be a new issue and there has to be a way to solve for it.

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@SeeSea,

This whole situation sucks... :(

I hope it all gets sorted out and you get the scan going.

Thanks - I have the scan scheduled for Friday on the 1.5T machine.

Yeah, so there is no comma. Just sayin'.

I wonder if you can contact your insurance provider as they may have a health care concierge or a nurses on call program. Also wondering what the MRI manufacturer(s) say. This can't be a new issue and there has to be a way to solve for it.

Yeah, magical invisible comma, right? :D I doubt the insurance companies would have a clue. I'll explore some more online, but it seems to boil down to this - tell them you have a tattoo and they will evaluate what they are willing to do. I suspect no one has done a study on this, even retrospectively. All I see are some case studies where burns have occurred. This place told me that I should expect that it will get warm, and to let them know immediately if it gets too warm. Yeessh.

I'll follow-up after the MRI and let you know how it felt and if I ran screaming from the room.

- - - Updated - - -

Ugh. Sorry you have to deal with this.

Thanks. At least it's not for some immediate accident or injury or something tragic. Just frustrating.

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I took a MRI a couple of weeks ago. Not knowing anything about tattoos causing problems(or could cause problems). I had no trouble at all. The technician saw my thigh tattoo and said nothing. I have plenty of red in a couple of tattoos and like I said nothing happened. I don't know what kind of MRI machine it was though!

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Well, it was certainly uneventful. My tattoo possibly felt warm, but I had more tingling from having to lay in an uncomfortable position. Probably hallucinating it had anything to do with the tattoo.

I told the tech at this place about being rejected from the other place and he said "They always do that. We welcome the biker's here."

Haha, funny, jerk.

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Well, it was certainly uneventful. My tattoo possibly felt warm, but I had more tingling from having to lay in an uncomfortable position. Probably hallucinating it had anything to do with the tattoo.

I told the tech at this place about being rejected from the other place and he said "They always do that. We welcome the biker's here."

Haha, funny, jerk.

I am glad you got it all sorted out and got your MRI done! YAY!

So that make the other clinic discriminatory?

Haha, funny, jerk.

Not funny but funny :p lol

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Not exactly medical care, but I wasn't allowed to donate plasma today because of the tattoo on my arm ditch. They had to consult practically every person working there to decide but eventually turned me away.

They didn't explain to me why exactly it was a problem, but one worker said to the other something about if there was a bruise or reaction, they wouldn't be able tell..or something? My veins are huge and obvious-I think they just suck at their jobs.

Painfully coincidental since I was just trying to make a few extra bucks to spend on more tattoos haha.

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As a registered nurse, I've been wondering lately how you would cannulate or take bloods from someone who had full arm coverage.

Has anyone here had difficulty when they needed to have a blood test due to the nurse finding it hard to locate a vein? Or had other experiences where medical care has been compromised due to being tattooed?

The tattoo on my back limited my reconstruction/skin graft options after surgery for cancer. The ink in my lymph nodes also threw the oncologist, but didn't pose any problems in itself once they knew about my tattoos.

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This might warrant its own thread, but I though it would be good to keep it in a medically-relevant thread. The article is not dated, but it contains references from May 2014 so it's relatively new.

A case of overdose via tattoo

in the Journal of the Intensive Care Society

Abstract

Transdermal fentanyl patches are used frequently for the management of both acute and chronic pain. Adverse events with their use, in particular overdose, are not uncommon. We describe a case of fentanyl overdose from transdermal patch placed over a five-day old tattoo. The report will review the pharmacology of transdermal fentanyl and the physiology of tattooing, as well as the potential link between the two, which may have lead to the overdose

A 56 year old male had a new tattoo - 5 days old, and he applied a fentanyl patch to the healing skin. Normally fentanyl creates a pool or "depot" in the epidermis before slowly migrating through the dermis. This allows the slow onset time and long half-life. Since the healing wound of the tattoo damaged the epidermis, the drug was able to reach the dermis more quickly, resulting in an increased serum concentration.

Obviously, this is a method used for abuse of the drug and the delivery system. This man had a prior inadvertent overdose by putting on a new patch without removing the old one. It's not hypothesized if the application over the tattoo was intentional.

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I find these experiences fascinating! I'm a medical professional (I run a clinic and also assist in surgery) and we do a lot of reconstructive surgeries, and remove moles, cancers, tumors, etc.

We had one lady come in for a somewhat extensive procedure on her breast involving relocation of the nipple and, unfortunately or fortunately, the tiger tattoo on her chest was oriented in such a way that her nipple wound up right in the middle of the tiger's face. The surgeon tried any way possible to avoid this, but he just couldn't, and the patient found the whole thing HILARIOUS, and was kind of tickled. She knew before surgery that the tiger would be ruined in some way, so it wasn't a total surprise.

We always try to work around tattoos when we can, but most people recognize that the procedure is necessary and sometimes you can't avoid messing up a tattoo.

I've been thinking about this recently because I'm a fair-skinned woman in my 40s and am getting work done on my shoulder/upper arm, where freckles and other charming sun damage is beginning to show up. I definitely wonder about being able to monitor moles and pigmented skin lesions after being tattooed in this location. My other tattoos are on my lower legs, which is not a very common place for skin cancers so this is the first time I've considered this issue.

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Reading through this thread, consensus seems to be that nothing terrible is going to happen if I get an MRI, yes?

I'm going to have my foot scanned tomorrow and since it's my non-tattooed leg that's injured, I was hoping they could just stick that foot in the machine and leave the rest of me out of it.  I don't think that's what's going to happen.  The lady I scheduled the appointment with asked me a bunch of intake questions (the normal stuff about claustrophobia and metal), but didn't mention anything about tattoos, so I asked if she'd ever heard of that being an issue.  She said she'd been scheduling radiology appointments for a long time and it had never come up, so presumably it's not a big deal.

I'm just wondering if anyone has had experience with MRI since this thread was last updated.

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I had an MRI of my left heal once, before I had any tattoos. The ortho had a small unit that I stuck my foot in, and it was over quickly. Of course, all metal was removed first. I didn't have any piercings then, either. So, maybe your ortho has one of the little ones, but any way no harm will come due to having a tattoo. If this were not a myth, your red blood cells would be negatively effected since they contain iron.

Sent from my Le Pan TC802A using Tapatalk

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For others who might be interested, the scan passed without incident.  My injured foot was all wrapped up in a boot, but I think that was just to keep it still.  Both my legs went into the machine.  I don't know how many Teslas it was, but my tattoos did not feel or look any different during or after the procedure.  I asked the technician about it beforehand just in case, and she said the only time it's an issue is with old tattoos, prison tattoos, and tattoos people have done themselves at home.

I had the same thought about iron, but I think the difference in magnetism is probably related to the iron being in an organic form (in your blood) vs. inorganic (in some tattoo inks).  That's complete conjecture though, I really have no idea.

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I had a neck MRI done last Friday and had a new tattoo on my back, close by. They said it wasn't a problem. The tattoo is still there.

When I was in the hospital last October with heart surgery, I was in a coma for almost 5 days. I was known as the tanned tattooed guy. Like some lump in the bed with tubes going in and out.

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2 hours ago, Gingerninja said:

@Colored Guy Yeah but you looked like a bad ass lump. I have some potential surgery coming up and unhappy that my tattoo's are gonna get jacked up.

 a couple years ago my wife had some cancer removed from her leg, and it was directly on a tattoo. :(

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2 hours ago, Gingerninja said:

That blows. @Dan I hope that she's okay now! Did she get a touchup/rework or just live with it?

she is clear for now, there is another one on her face :( she is scheduled to have it looked at soon,

and no we have not had her leg tattoo reworked yet.

Edited by Dan

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