Research Articles

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TOMOGRAPHY, September 2016, Volume 2, Issue 3: 203-214
DOI: 10.18383/j.tom.2016.00232

Noninvasive Electric Current Induction for Low Frequency Tissue Conductivity Reconstruction: Is It Feasible With a TMS-MRI Setup?

Stefano Mandija1, Petar I. Petrov2, Sebastian F. W. Neggers2, Peter R. Luijten1,3, Cornelis A. T. van den Berg1,4

1Center for Image Sciences, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands; 2Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands; 3Department of Radiology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands; and 4Department of Radiotherapy, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands


Noninvasive quantification of subject-specific low-frequency brain tissue conductivity (σLF) will be valuable in different fields, for example, neuroscience. Magnetic resonance (MR)-electrical impedance tomography allows measurements of σLF. However, the required high level of direct current injection leads to an undesirable pain sensation. Following the same principles, but avoiding pain sensation, we evaluate the feasibility of inductively inducing currents using a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) device and recording the magnetic field variations arising from the induced tissue eddy currents using a standard 3 T MR scanner. Using simulations, we characterize the strength of the incident TMS magnetic field arising from the current running in the TMS coil, the strength of the induced magnetic field arising from the induced currents in tissues by TMS pulses, and the MR phase accuracy required to measure this latter magnetic field containing information about σLF. Then, using TMS-MRI measurements, we evaluate the achievable phase accuracy for a typical TMS-MRI setup. From measurements and simulations, it is crucial to discriminate the incident from the induced magnetic field. The incident TMS magnetic field range is ±10-4 T, measurable with standard MR scanners. In contrast, the induced TMS magnetic field is much weaker (±10-8 T), leading to an MR phase contribution of ~10-4 rad. This phase range is too small to be measured, as the phase accuracy for TMS-MRI experiments is ~10-2 rads. Thus, although highly attractive, noninvasive measurements of the induced TMS magnetic field, and therefore estimations of σLF, are experimentally not feasible.

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