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MRI Safety: RF Burns - Causes and Prevention - Essay Example

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Advances in the field of imaging technology have made magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), available to medical science. MRI is a powerful and versatile diagnostic tool, with the consequence of increasing popularity in its use…
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MRI Safety: RF Burns - Causes and Prevention
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However, the interaction of MRI technology with the human body cannot be deemed to be totally safe, with incidents of harm occurring in some cases of MRI examinations (Stokowski, 2005). Bio-effects of MRI refer to the biological effects that occur to the human body, as a result of the interaction between the magnetic resonance (MR) scanner and the human body. These bio-effects can be classified into three, namely, the static field effects, the time varying field or the gradient, and the radio-frequency (RF) effects. Tissue heating can occur through excessive RF interaction in patients, leading to RF burns (Liney, 2010). This paper evaluates the causes for RF burns and the preventive measures that can be taken to reduce the incidence of RF burns. Heat Stress in RF Technology in MRI According to Shellock 2000, p.30, “Radiofrequency (RF) energy is non-ionizing, electromagnetic radiation in the frequency range 0-3000 GHz.” Evidence from more than three decades of research has demonstrated that RF radiation exposure can have many physiological impacts in the human body. These physiological effects are essentially caused by the RF-induced tissue heating in the human body. During MRI diagnostic examinations, a large portion of the RF energy employed in imaging or spectroscopy gets converted into thermal energy in the tissues of the individual under investigation, due to resistive losses. Therefore, the main bio-effects due to the RF radiation used in MRI technology are a direct consequence of the thermogenic qualities of this electromagnetic field (Shellock, 2000). Potential risks for individuals in diagnostic imaging using MRI technology relate to the individuals under imaging evaluation and those individuals close to the MRI imaging device, stemming from exposure to the static magnetic field (B0), magnetic field gradients of time variance (dB/dt), and radio frequency (RF) magnetic fields (B1). The important issues relating to safety of RF fields during MRI diagnostic imaging pertain to thermal heating, that results in current burns and contact burns from the heat stress that is generated. Irrespective of the frequency, induced currents cause power dissipation in the tissues of the human body, which results in the build up of energy and increase in the temperature of the body. At frequency levels over 0.1 MHz the thermal impact is more pronounced that has a strong bearing on the safety issues with MRI diagnostic imaging. There is uneven distribution of the RF field, as in-in-homogeneity is enhanced, when the strength of the field is raised, depending on the design of the coil (MHRA Device Bulletin, 2007). Table – 1 gives typical field strengths and RF transmit frequencies for MR systems. Table – 1 Typical Field Strengths and RF Transmit Frequencies for MR systems Field Strength (T) Transmit Frequency (MHz) 0.2 8.5 0.5 21 1.0 42 1.5 63 3.0 126 (MHRA Device Bulletin, 2007) The consequence of absorption of energy from RF fields in the human body is an increase in vibration of molecules and heat generation. Within the tissues of humans the resultant reaction is dilation of the arteries and veins, which leads to enhancement in blood flow in the tissues, and dissipation of the extra heat, through dissipation predominantly through the skin. Different organs in the human body do not have the same electromagnetic and thermal nature. In the case of the human eye there is scanty blood flow and hardly any in the eye lens. The result of low or negligible blood flow means that heat dissipation ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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