Exposure to MRI-related magnetic fields and vertigo in MRI workers

Occup Environ Med. 2016 Mar;73(3):161-6. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2015-103019. Epub 2015 Nov 11.


Objectives: Vertigo has been reported by people working around magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners and was found to increase with increasing strength of scanner magnets. This suggests an association with exposure to static magnetic fields (SMF) and/or motion-induced time-varying magnetic fields (TVMF). This study assessed the association between various metrics of shift-long exposure to SMF and TVMF and self-reported vertigo among MRI workers.

Methods: We analysed 358 shifts from 234 employees at 14 MRI facilities in the Netherlands. Participants used logbooks to report vertigo experienced during the work day at the MRI facility. In addition, personal exposure to SMF and TVMF was measured during the same shifts, using portable magnetic field dosimeters.

Results: Vertigo was reported during 22 shifts by 20 participants and was significantly associated with peak and time-weighted average (TWA) metrics of SMF as well as TVMF exposure. Associations were most evident with full-shift TWA TVMF exposure. The probability of vertigo occurrence during a work shift exceeded 5% at peak exposure levels of 409 mT and 477 mT/s and at full-shift TWA levels of 3 mT and 0.6 mT/s.

Conclusions: These results confirm the hypothesis that vertigo is associated with exposure to MRI-related SMF and TVMF. Strong correlations between various metrics of shift-long exposure make it difficult to disentangle the effects of SMF and TVMF exposure, or identify the most relevant exposure metric. On the other hand, this also implies that several metrics of shift-long exposure to SMF and TVMF should perform similarly in epidemiological studies on MRI-related vertigo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Magnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Vertigo / epidemiology
  • Vertigo / etiology*