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Weird metal-related question


#1

Folks,

I wonder if any of you might have an answer to a rather thorny
problem our family is facing. My husband has recently been fairly
seriously ill, and the doctors wanted to do an MRI. However, he had
jaw surgery about 11 years ago and has plates implanted in his jaw.
Unfortunately, neither his jaw surgeon from way back then, nor the
hospital where he had the surgery performed can guarantee that the
implants were completely non-ferrous metal (i.e., screws and
implants both). Therefore, our current doctors will not risk an
MRI, for the obvious reasons.

Now, the reason I’m sending this to you fine folks is that I’m
wondering whether you know of any way to definitively test from the
outside of the body, to see if an implant like this is magnetic?
Are there any characteristic things that show up in some type of
non-invasive testing that would be able to prove/disprove the
presence of ferrous metal? (Aside from sticking a refrigerator
magnet to the side of his jaw - we’ve tried it and it didn’t work.)

I realize this isn’t a health-issue list, but figured some of the
metallurgistically-minded (how’s that for a word!) among the Orchid
community might have a clue.

Many thanks for any help,
Karen Goeller
@Karen_Goeller


#2

Hi, Karen- From my perspective, this is more a regulatory question
than one of metallurgy. Whereas neither the hospital nor the
physician may be willing to guarantee the composition of the
implant, they should have a record of the manufacturer and serial#
or model# of the implant. Medical providers are required to retain
such because there must be a way to identify the
affected patients if the implant were later found to be in some way
defective or hazardous to health. This is the issue of Medical
Device Reporting (MDR,) and it is subject to extensive regulation by
the FDA. If you can obtain this info from the hospital, you should
be able to obtain the needed info regarding alloy composition from
the manufacturer of the implant.

HTH,
Lee Einer


#3

Karen, I have no answer for you. This is far beyond my areas of
expertise. I do understand the seriousness of the problem and am
sure that one of our posters will come up with a solution for you.
This group never fails to amaze me. What I am hoping is that you and
your husband did see the humor in the refrigerator magnet! I found
this most amusing on a cold Sunday morning. I truly wish it had
worked as the simplest solutions are often the most beautiful.
Laughter helps to keep us sane or at least saner in the difficult
times.

Just think, if we had magnets implanted, we could wear attachable
jewelry without the piercing. Maybe this would open up a whole new
area of adornment. Remember the toy face with the iron filings and
the magnet?

Best wishes for a quick solution and quicker recovery. For what it
is worth, I lost part of a jaw bone in Vietnam and have been the MRI
route looking for missed metal. No metal, just missing nerves and
some sanity.

Best wishes. Bill


#4
 I'm wondering whether you know of any way to definitively test
from the outside of the body, to see if an implant like this is
magnetic? 

G’day Karen. I have a simple suggestion to offer for non invasive
fairly sensitive testing to discover whether magnetic material is
present. Obtain a flat, light and sensitive spring and fasten one
end to a piece of rigid plastic, like lucite. Or even wood. Obtain
one of the very small, powerful rare metal magnets and glue this to
the spring about a centimetre from the end so that this portion can
be used as a pointer. Bring this very slowly to the item being
tested - in this case. your husband’s face - and watch the pointer
for any movement, which will indicate a magnetic attraction. A
compass may also work, and perhaps be more sensitive. There are
electronic methods for magnetic detection, which will ignore non
magnetic metals. However, do not forget that some nickel and cobalt
alloys are magnetic. These methods will also detect cheap plated iron
"jewellery"

There are simple, cheap hand held devices which will detect the
presence of even a pin hammered into a piece of wood - I have one to
avoid ruining my planes and saws when working with used timber, but
these detect almost any metal, including bronze boat nails. When I
pass it across my knees it goes mad - they are mostly cobalt chrome!

We wish your husband well.
Cheers for now,
John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua, Nelson NZ


#5

Hello Karen, My suggestion is to go to a metal detector store and ask
the salesperson to use the metal detector on your husband jaw. The
metal detector will show you whether it ferrous (magnetic) or
non-ferrous (non-magnetic) metal in the jaw.

Best regards,
Yury
george_merkulov@yahoo.com


#6

Karen,

You may wish to contact:

Department of Neurosurgery
University of Illinois at Chicago
Neuropsychiatric Institute
912 South Wood Street
Chicago, IL 60612-7329
312 355 4300

They can steer you towards magnetic resonance (MR) imaging,

four-vessel cerebral angiography, xenon-computed tomography (CT), and
phase-contrast MR (PCMR) imaging. In addition, they have developed a
computer modeling method to assess flow within a patient’s brain. I
don’t believe this is done anywhere else. Hope this helps. Richard
Hyer


#7

A regular refrig magnet would not have the power needed to determine
if there is ferrous content. I would spend a few dollars and buy a
good strong “rare earth” magnet. These magnets are generally so
strong that your can attach them to a refrigerator and not be able to
pull them off again.


#8

Hi Bill - this post is not for the faint of heart - you’d be
surprised what kind of things people will do to adorn (?)
themselves. There are those who insert objects made of surgical
steel under the skin layer to form raised areas in the shapes of
crosses, bumps (for that ET look), semi-circles… There are also
threaded implants that poke through the skin so that you can attach
horns. I used to have a web site address with people who did this
sort of thing but I have lost it (probably for the best). Eileen


#9
A regular refrig magnet would not have the power needed to
determine if there is ferrous content.  I would spend a few dollars
and buy a good strong "rare earth" magnet.  These magnets are
generally so strong that your can attach them to a refrigerator and
not be able to pull them off again. 

That reminds me of the magnets in hard drives. My husband is a
computer geek, so he’s been taking apart old hard drives recently.
They have these magnets in them that are intense! He does this trick
where he puts one on top of his wrist and the other one on the
bottom, and they hold. When I tried it, I tried to slide the thing
off, and wound up with one heck of a blood blister from the pinch!!

I wonder if the hard drive magnets are similar to the rare earth
magnets? I think we’d have to pry one off the fridge…

Dawn


#10

Howdy Karen, I think it’s unlikely you could get any confirmation up
to the level of assurance today’s tort-suit-averse medical industry
would require. Having said that, there IS a narrow field (no pun
intended) that is at the forefront of discrimination between
ferrous/non-ferrous material - metal detectors.(I call mine a junk
detector) If you could get Garrett engineers to sign off on some
minimal to zero ferrous mass in the patient’s jaw - perhaps
reasonable doctors/hospital bureacrats would be satisfied.
Alternatively, maybe a different type scan would be helpful,(PET?)
I wish you all the luck. Carl 1 Lucky Texan


#11

Karen, I passed your question on to a friend of mine who is an
"interventional radiologist." We’ll see whether he has any good
answers for you. It made me wonder about MY metal sutures in my
chest…now I am gonna have to check if mine are ferrous. I also like
the metal detector idea which someone posted.
David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings