A study on subjective perception has been carried out in order to gain further insight into subjective discomfort and sensations experienced during 7 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This study provides information about subjective acceptance, which is essential if 7 T MRI is to become a clinical diagnostic tool. Of 573 subjects who underwent 7 T MRI, 166 were also examined at 1.5 T, providing a means of discriminating field-dependent discomfort. All subjects judged sources of discomfort and physiological sensations on an 11-point scale (0 = no side effects, 10 = intolerable side effects) and scores were analyzed separately for exam phases, with and without table movement at each field strength. Results revealed that 7 T MRI was, in general, judged more uncomfortable than 1.5 T; however, most subjects rated the effects as being non-critical (mean scores between 0.5 and 3.5). Significant differences were detected regarding vertigo and sweating between subjects positioned "head-first" and "feet-first" at 7 T (worse in "head-first") and between 7 and 1.5 T (worse at 7 T), with the effects being more pronounced in the moving compared to the stationary table position. The most unpleasant factor at 7 T was the extensive examination duration, while potentially field-dependent sensations were rated less bothersome. In summary, our study indicates that although certain sensations increase at 7 T compared to 1.5 T, they are unlikely to hinder the use of 7 T MRI as a clinical diagnostic tool.
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