Rationale and objectives: The authors evaluate the feasibility of monitoring radio frequency (RF) ablation in an interventional, open-configuration, 0.5-tesla magnetic resonance (MR) environment.
Methods: Ex vivo and in vivo RF coagulation necrosis were induced in porcine paraspinal muscle tissue using a 300 kHz monopolar RF generator applying 5 to 20 W over 3 to 9 minutes. Images were acquired simultaneous to RF application, after RF application, and in an intermittent mode (60 seconds of RF followed by 15 seconds of MR imaging). Temperature changes were monitored based on amplitude (ex vivo) and phase alterations (in vivo) of a T1-weighted graded refocused echo (GRE) sequence enabling an update every 2.5 seconds. A standardized color-coded subtraction technique enhanced signal changes. Additionally, T2- and T1-weighted spin echo (SE) images were acquired with and without intravenous contrast. Macroscopic coagulation size was compared with lesion size seen on MR images.
Results: Although lesion diameters were related directly to applied RF power, the application mode had no significant impact on coagulation size (P > 0.05). As could be expected, MR imaging during RF ablation resulted in major image distortion. Radio frequency effects were seen on images acquired in the continuous and intermittent modes. Coagulation size seen on GRE images correlated well with macroscopy both ex vivo (r = 0.89) and in vivo (r = 0.92). Poorer correlation was found with postinterventional SE sequences (r = 0.78-0.84).
Conclusions: Magnetic resonance monitoring of RF effects is feasible both ex vivo as well as in vivo using temperature-sensitive sequences in an open-configuration MR environment.