SAR and temperature: Simulations and comparison to regulatory limits for MRI

Zhangwei Wang, James C. Lin, Weihua Mao, Wanzhan Liu, Michael B. Smith, Christopher M. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Purpose: To present and discuss numerical calculations of the specific absorption rate (SAR) and temperature in comparison to regulatory limits. While it is possible to monitor whole-body or whole-head average SAR and/or core body temperature during MRI in practice, this is not generally true for local SAR values or local temperatures throughout the body. While methods of calculation for SAR and temperature are constantly being refined, methods for interpreting results of these calculations in light of regulatory limits also warrant discussion. Materials and Methods: Numerical calculations of SAR and temperature for the human head in a volume coil for MRI at several different frequencies are presented. Results: Just as the field pattern changes with the frequency, so do the temperature distribution and the ratio of maximum local SAR (in 1-g or 10-g regions) to whole-head average SAR. In all of the cases studied here this ratio is far greater than that in the regulatory limits, indicating that existing limits on local SAR will be exceeded before limits on whole-body or whole-head average SAR are reached. Conclusion: Calculations indicate that both SAR and temperature distributions vary greatly with B1 field frequency, that temperature distributions do not always correlate well with SAR distributions, and that regulatory limits on local temperature may not be exceeded as readily as those on local SAR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-441
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • MRI
  • SAR
  • Simulations
  • Temperature, safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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