Thermal effects of MR imaging: worst-case studies on sheep. Academic Article uri icon


  • The objective of this study was to provide a worst-case estimate of thermal effects of MR imaging by subjecting anesthetized unshorn sheep to power deposition at specific absorption rates (SARs) well above approved standards for periods of time in excess of normal clinical imaging protocols. A control period with no RF power was followed by 20-105 min of RF power application. Afterward, there was a 20-min or longer recovery period with no RF power. Eight sheep were given whole-body RF exposure (1.5- to 4-W/kg SAR) while rectal and skin temperatures were monitored. Four sheep were subjected to 4-W/kg head scans for an average of 75 min while temperatures of the cornea, vitreous humor, head skin, jugular vein, and rectum were measured. In head scanning experiments, skin and eye temperatures increased about 1.5 degrees C. Jugular vein temperature rose a maximum of 0.4 degrees C after an average exposure of 75 min. In whole-body exposures, elevation of rectal temperature was correlated with energy input. Deep-body temperature rises in excess of 2.0 degrees C were attained for 4-W/kg whole-body exposure periods greater than 82 min. Animals exposed for 40 min to 4 W/kg in either body coil (three sheep) or head coil (two sheep) were recovered and observed to be in good health for 10 weeks; no cataracts were found. MR power deposition at SAR levels well above typical clinical imaging protocols caused body temperature to increase. For exposure periods in excess of standard clinical imaging protocols the temperature increase was insufficient to cause adverse thermal effects. Studies in healthy humans are needed to determine whether enhanced heat-loss effector mechanisms are likely to cause deep-body temperatures to plateau at an acceptable level, and to elucidate mechanisms that determine subcutaneous temperature.

published proceedings

  • AJR Am J Roentgenol

altmetric score

  • 9

author list (cited authors)

  • Barber, B. J., Schaefer, D. J., Gordon, C. J., Zawieja, D. C., & Hecker, J.

citation count

  • 33

complete list of authors

  • Barber, BJ||Schaefer, DJ||Gordon, CJ||Zawieja, DC||Hecker, J

publication date

  • November 1990