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In Vitro Magnetic Resonance Imaging Evaluation of Fragmented, Open-Coil, Percutaneous Peripheral Nerve Stimulation Leads.

  • Author(s): Shellock, Frank G;
  • Zare, Armaan;
  • Ilfeld, Brian M;
  • Chae, John;
  • Strother, Robert B
  • et al.

Published Web Location


Percutaneous peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) is an FDA-cleared pain treatment. Occasionally, fragments of the lead (MicroLead, SPR Therapeutics, LLC, Cleveland, OH, USA) may be retained following lead removal. Since the lead is metallic, there are associated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) risks. Therefore, the objective of this investigation was to evaluate MRI-related issues (i.e., magnetic field interactions, heating, and artifacts) for various lead fragments.


Testing was conducted using standardized techniques on lead fragments of different lengths (i.e., 50, 75, and 100% of maximum possible fragment length of 12.7 cm) to determine MRI-related problems. Magnetic field interactions (i.e., translational attraction and torque) and artifacts were tested for the longest lead fragment at 3 Tesla. MRI-related heating was evaluated at 1.5 Tesla/64 MHz and 3 Tesla/128 MHz with each lead fragment placed in a gelled-saline filled phantom. Temperatures were recorded on the lead fragments while using relatively high RF power levels. Artifacts were evaluated using T1-weighted, spin echo, and gradient echo (GRE) pulse sequences.


The longest lead fragment produced only minor magnetic field interactions. For the lead fragments evaluated, physiologically inconsequential MRI-related heating occurred at 1.5 Tesla/64 MHz while under certain 3 Tesla/128 MHz conditions, excessive temperature elevations may occur. Artifacts extended approximately 7 mm from the lead fragment on the GRE pulse sequence, suggesting that anatomy located at a position greater than this distance may be visualized on MRI.


MRI may be performed safely in patients with retained lead fragments at 1.5 Tesla using the specific conditions of this study (i.e., MR Conditional). Due to possible excessive temperature rises at 3 Tesla, performing MRI at that field strength is currently inadvisable.

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