Burn injury by nuclear magnetic resonance imaging

Clin Imaging. 2010 Jul-Aug;34(4):293-7. doi: 10.1016/j.clinimag.2009.06.025.


Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging has become a standard diagnostic procedure in clinical medicine and is well known to have hazards for patients with pacemaker or metallic foreign bodies. Compared to CT, the frequency of MRI examinations is increasing due to the missing exposure of the patients by X-rays. Furthermore, high-field magnetic resonance tomograph (MRT) with 3 T has entered clinical practice, and 7-T systems are installed in multiple scientific institutions. On the other hand, the possibility of burn injuries has been reported only in very few cases. Based on a clinical finding of a burn injury in a 31-year-old male patient during a routine MRI of the lumbar spine with standard protocol, the MR scanner was checked and the examination was simulated in an animal model. The patient received a third-degree burn injury of the skin of the right hand and pelvis in a small region of skin contact. The subsequent control of the MRI scanner indicated no abnormal values for radiofrequency (RF) and power. In the subsequent animal experiment, comparable injuries could only be obtained by high RF power in a microwave stove. It is concluded that 'tissue loops' resulting from a contact between hand and pelvis must be avoided. With regard to forensic aspects, the need to inform patients of such a minimal risk can be avoided if the patients are adequately positioned using an isolating material between the hands and pelvis. These facts must be emphasized more in the future, if high-field MRI with stronger RF gradients is available in routine imaging.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burns, Electric / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / adverse effects*
  • Male