RF safety of wires in interventional MRI: Using a safety index

Christopher J. Yeung, Robert C. Susil, Ergin Atalar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


With the rapid growth of interventional MRI, radiofrequency (RF) heating at the tips of guidewires, catheters, and other wireshaped devices has become an important safety issue. Previous studies have identified some of the variables that affect the relative magnitude of this heating but none could predict the absolute amount of heating to formulate safety margins. This study presents the first theoretical model of wire tip heating that can accurately predict its absolute value, assuming a straight wire, a homogeneous RF coil, and a wire that does not extend out of the tissue. The local specific absorption rate (SAR) amplification from induced currents on insulated and bare wires was calculated using the method of moments. This SAR gain was combined with a semianalytic solution to the bioheat transfer equation to generate a safety index. The safety index (°C/(W/kg)) is a measure of the in vivo temperature change that can occur with the wire in place, normalized to the SAR of the pulse sequence. This index can be used to set limits on the spatial peak SAR of pulse sequences that are used with the interventional wire. For the case of a straight resonant wire in a tissue with very low perfusion, only about 100 mW/kg/°C spatial peak SAR may be used at 1.5 T. But for ≤ 10-cm wires with an insulation thickness ≥ 30% of the wire radius that are placed in well-perfused tissues, normal operating conditions of 4 W/kg spatial peak SAR are possible at 1.5 T. Further model development to include the influence of inhomogeneous RF, curved wires, and wires that extend out of the sample are required to generate safety indices that are applicable to common clinical situations. We propose a simple way to ensure safety when using an interventional wire: set a limit on the SAR of allowable pulse sequences that is a factor of a safety index below the tolerable temperature increase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-193
Number of pages7
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Interventional MRI
  • Metallic implants
  • Moment method
  • MRI safety
  • RF heating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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