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I had a scleral buckle procedure for a detached retina in NYC in 1991. I now can't locate the surgeon and the hospital says they throw away records after seven years. At the time, I had no inkling that I should ask the following question, and no one mentioned anything to me about the possibility of there being a metal clip as part of the buckle. I now have done some research and find that some clips are ferrous/magnetic in nature. Did scleral buckles in 1991 possibly contain a ferrous (magnetic) clip? Or at that time was tantalum the only metal used? Or did they not use metal clips at all? I ask because I need to know if I can have an MRI.

This is a question asked quite often by patients who have undergone scleral buckling in the past. Tantalum was first utilized in scleral buckling in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to know for sure if the clip you had placed at that time is magnetic or not. Another option is find out from the hospital if the operating surgeon had any partners or was in a group practice. Even though the operating surgeon may not be around, his or her partners may recall what type of clip was typically used.

Many radiologists suggest that an x-ray be performed to determine if a metallic clip is, in fact, present. The presence of metal, even if it is not magnetic, is often a good reason not to perform an MRI. This is because metals, even if they are not magnetic, can heat up causing danger to the eye.

Finally, if the MRI is essential and there are no other options, the buckle clip can be removed surgically.

Answered by: John Kitchens, MD Dr. John W. Kitchens

Categories: Eye Surgery

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Answered: Jun 19, 2012

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