The aims of this study were to investigate the subjective discomfort and sensory side effects during ultrahigh field (UHF) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations in a large-scale study and to evaluate differences between magnetic resonance (MR) sites.
Materials and Methods
Four MR sites with a 7-T MR system and 2 MR sites with a 9.4-T MR system participated in this multicenter study with a total number of 3457 completed questionnaires on causes of discomfort and sensations during the examination. For a pooled retrospective analysis of the results from the partially different questionnaires, all data were adapted to an answer option with a 4-point scale (0 = no discomfort/side effect, 3 = very unpleasant/very strong sensation). To differentiate effects evoked by the low-frequency time-varying magnetic fields due to movement through the static magnetic field, most questionnaires separated the manifestation of sensory side effects during movement on the patient table from manifestation while lying still in the isocenter.
In general, a high acceptance of UHF examinations was found, where in 82% of the completed questionnaires, the subjects stated the examination to be at least tolerable. Although in 7.6% of the questionnaires, subjects felt discomfort during the examination, only 0.9% of the image acquisitions had to be terminated prematurely. No adverse events occurred in any of the examinations. Only 1% of the subjects were unwilling to undergo further UHF MRI examinations. Examination duration was the most complained cause of discomfort, followed by acoustic noise and lying still. All magnetic-field–related sensations were more pronounced when moving the patient table versus the isocenter position (19%/2% of the subjects felt unpleasant vertigo during the moving/stationary state). In general, vertigo was the most often stated sensory side effect and was more pronounced at 9.4 T compared with 7 T. However, the results varied substantially among the different sites.
The high levels of subjective acceptance found in this study lead to the conclusion that UHF MRI would be tolerated as a diagnostic tool in clinical practice. For more consistent data ascertainment, we propose a standardized questionnaire for subjective perception monitoring.