Safe MRI-Compatible electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) system Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • PURPOSE: To develop an inexpensive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-compatible electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) unit and test it for safety and efficacy. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A simple MRI-compatible EMS device was developed using radiofrequency (RF) translucent electrodes at 3T. RF heating concerns were assessed using optical temperature measurements at electrode sites, during scanning of a phantom. EMS efficacy and consistency was investigated through in vivo (n = 5) measures of 31 P-MRS phosphocreatine (PCr) reduction, and altered blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal and the results were compared to effects from equivalent voluntary effort on the same subjects. RESULTS: The presence of an EMS pulse did not interfere with the T2 * signal in a phantom. However, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) was reduced by 70% at electrode sites, but only by 10% 4 cm distally. Under RF intense conditions, the temperature at the electrode site increased by only 4.7°C over a 16-minute time span. In vivo muscle stimulation resulted in 13.5 ± 1.8% reduction in PCr, which was not significantly (P < 0.195) different from voluntary contraction. Reproducible muscle BOLD signal changes following EMS were noted, with a maximal increase of 10.0 ± 2.6% seen in the central soleus. For soleus and gastrocnemius compartments, EMS produced significantly higher BOLD signal change compared to voluntary contraction (P < 0.05). CONCLUSION: A safe and inexpensive MRI-compatible EMS unit can be easily built for evaluating muscle function and metabolism within a 3T MRI scanner. Clinical applications might include evaluating skeletal muscle function in patients with limited or absent voluntary skeletal motor function or inadequate exercise capacity. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2016;44:1530-1538.

publication date

  • December 2016

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