Alexandre Boutet, Ileana Hancu, Utpal Saha, Adrian Crawley, David S. Xu, Manish Ranjan, Eugen Hlasny, Robert Chen, Warren Foltz, Francesco Sammartino, Ailish Coblentz, Walter Kucharczyk, and Andres M. Lozano
Physicians are more frequently encountering patients who are treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS), yet many MRI centers do not routinely perform MRI in this population. This warrants a safety assessment to improve DBS patients’ accessibility to MRI, thereby improving their care while simultaneously providing a new tool for neuromodulation research.
A phantom simulating a patient with a DBS neuromodulation device (DBS lead model 3387 and IPG Activa PC model 37601) was constructed and used. Temperature changes at the most ventral DBS electrode contacts, implantable pulse generator (IPG) voltages, specific absorption rate (SAR), and B1+rms were recorded during 3-T MRI scanning. Safety data were acquired with a transmit body multi-array receive and quadrature transmit-receive head coil during various pulse sequences, using numerous DBS configurations from “the worst” to “the most common.”
In addition, 3-T MRI scanning (T1 and fMRI) was performed on 41 patients with fully internalized and active DBS using a quadrature transmit-receive head coil. MR images, neurological examination findings, and stability of the IPG impedances were assessed.
In the phantom study, temperature rises at the DBS electrodes were less than 2°C for both coils during 3D SPGR, EPI, DTI, and SWI. Sequences with intense radiofrequency pulses such as T2-weighted sequences may cause higher heating (due to their higher SAR). The IPG did not power off and kept a constant firing rate, and its average voltage output was unchanged. The 41 DBS patients underwent 3-T MRI with no adverse event.
Under the experimental conditions used in this study, 3-T MRI scanning of DBS patients with selected pulse sequences appears to be safe. Generally, T2-weighted sequences (using routine protocols) should be avoided in DBS patients. Complementary 3-T MRI phantom safety data suggest that imaging conditions that are less restrictive than those used in the patients in this study, such as using transmit body multi-array receive coils, may also be safe. Given the interplay between the implanted DBS neuromodulation device and the MRI system, these findings are specific to the experimental conditions in this study.
Alexandre Boutet, Gavin J. B. Elias, Robert Gramer, Clemens Neudorfer, Jürgen Germann, Asma Naheed, Nicole Bennett, Bryan Li, Dave Gwun, Clement T. Chow, Ricardo Maciel, Alejandro Valencia, Alfonso Fasano, Renato P. Munhoz, Warren Foltz, David Mikulis, Ileana Hancu, Suneil K. Kalia, Mojgan Hodaie, Walter Kucharczyk, and Andres M. Lozano
Many centers are hesitant to perform clinically indicated MRI in patients who have undergone deep brain stimulation (DBS). Highly restrictive guidelines prohibit the use of most routine clinical MRI protocols in these patients. The authors’ goals were to assess the safety of spine MRI in patients with implanted DBS devices, first through phantom model testing and subsequently through validation in a DBS patient cohort.
A phantom was used to assess DBS device heating during 1.5-T spine MRI. To establish a safe spine protocol, routinely used clinical sequences deemed unsafe (a rise in temperature > 2°C) were modified to decrease the rise in temperature. This safe phantom-based protocol was then used to prospectively run 67 spine MRI sequences in 9 DBS participants requiring clinical imaging. The primary outcome was acute adverse effects; secondary outcomes included long-term adverse clinical effects, acute findings on brain MRI, and device impedance stability.
The increases in temperature were highest when scanning the cervical spine and lowest when scanning the lumbar spine. A temperature rise < 2°C was achieved when 3D sequences were modified to 2D and when the number of slices was decreased by the minimum amount compared to routine spine MRI protocols (but there were still more slices than allowed by vendor guidelines). Following spine MRI, no acute or long-term adverse effects or acute findings on brain MR images were detected. Device impedances remained stable.
Patients with DBS devices may safely undergo spine MRI with a fewer number of slices compared to those used in routine clinical protocols. Safety data acquisition may allow protocols outside vendor guidelines with a maximized number of slices, reducing the need for radiologist supervision.
Clinical trial registration no.: NCT03753945 (ClinicalTrials.gov).