The physics of MRI safety

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2018 Jan;47(1):28-43. doi: 10.1002/jmri.25761. Epub 2017 May 19.

Abstract

The main risks associated with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been extensively reported and studied; for example, everyday objects may turn into projectiles, energy deposition can cause burns, varying fields can induce nerve stimulation, and loud noises can lead to auditory loss. The present review article is geared toward providing intuition about the physical mechanisms that give rise to these risks. On the one hand, excellent literature already exists on the practical aspect of risk management, with clinical workflow and recommendations. On the other hand, excellent technical articles also exist that explain these risks from basic principles of electromagnetism. We felt that an underserved niche might be found between the two, ie, somewhere between basic science and practical advice, to help develop intuition about electromagnetism that might prove of practical value when working around MR scanners. Following a wide-ranging introduction, risks originating from the main magnetic field, the excitation RF electromagnetic field, and switching of the imaging gradients will be presented in turn.

Level of evidence: 5 Technical Efficacy: 1 J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2018;47:28-43.

Keywords: MRI physics; RF heating; gradients; magnetic field; safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Electromagnetic Radiation
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Fields
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Noise
  • Patient Safety*
  • Physics
  • Radio Waves
  • Risk