Occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields in magnetic resonance environment: basic aspects and review of exposure assessment approaches

Abstract

The purpose of this review is to make a contribution to build a comprehensive knowledge of the main aspects related to the occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) environments. Information has been obtained from original research papers published in international peer-reviewed journals in the English language and from documents published by governmental bodies and authorities. An overview of the occupational exposure scenarios to static magnetic fields, motion-induced, time-varying magnetic fields, and gradient and radiofrequency fields is provided, together with a summary of the relevant regulation for limiting exposure. A particular emphasis is on reviewing the main EMF exposure assessment approaches found in the literature. Exposure assessment is carried out either by measuring the unperturbed magnetic fields in the MRI rooms, or by personal monitoring campaigns, or by the use of numerical methods. A general lack of standardization of the procedures and technologies adopted for exposure assessment has emerged, which makes it difficult to perform a direct comparison of results from different studies carried out by applying different assessment strategies. In conclusion, exposure assessment approaches based on data collection and numerical models need to be better defined in order to respond to specific research questions. That would provide for a more complete characterization of the exposure patterns and for identification of the factors determining the exposure variability.

Main approaches adopted in the literature to perform occupational exposure assessment to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) environments. SMF: static magnetic field; GMF: gradient magnetic fields; RF: radio-frequencies.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are thankful to Dr. Mats-Olof Mattsson, (Austrian Institute of Technology, Tulln, Austria) for proof-reading the paper and for the useful comments and suggestions provided.

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Correspondence to Valentina Hartwig.

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Hartwig, V., Romeo, S. & Zeni, O. Occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields in magnetic resonance environment: basic aspects and review of exposure assessment approaches. Med Biol Eng Comput 56, 531–545 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11517-017-1779-7

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Keywords

  • Magnetic resonance
  • Electromagnetic fields
  • Occupational exposure
  • Exposure assessment
  • Regulations and guidelines