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MRI evaluation of metal acupuncture needles
  1. Ling Mei1,2,
  2. Xiaojing Long1,
  3. Yanjun Diao1,3,
  4. Haibo Yu3,
  5. Wanzhang Yang4,
  6. Leanna J Standish5,6,
  7. Bensheng Qiu1,5
  1. 1Paul C Lauterbur Research Centers for Biomedical Imaging, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
  2. 2School of Electronic and Information Engineering, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China
  3. 3Shenzhen International TCM Training Center, Shenzhen Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
  4. 4Department of Rehabilitation, Shenzhen Nanshan Hospital, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
  5. 5Bastyr University Research Institute, Bastyr University, Kenmore, Washington, USA
  6. 6Department of Radiology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Bensheng Qiu, and Dr Xiaojing Long, Paul C Lauterbur Research Centers for Biomedical Imaging, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1068 Xueyuan Boulevard, University Town of Shenzhen, Xili Nanshan, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518055, China; bqiu{at} and xj.long{at}


Objective To evaluate the MR compatibility of three metal acupuncture needles (a standard stainless steel needle, a gold needle and an austenitic stainless steel needle) by comparing their imaging artefacts, radiofrequency heating effects and ease of operation.

Methods The MRI artefacts of the three metal needles were first evaluated by placing them in an agar gel phantom and performing MRI of the phantom. The increase in temperature during MRI was recorded using an MR-compatible fibreoptic thermometer. MRI of acupuncture at SP6 was performed using the MR-compatible gold needle and the austenitic stainless steel needle.

Results The standard stainless steel acupuncture needle produced large imaging artefacts on MRI. The gold needle was superior for MRI but not rigid enough for some clinical applications such as scalp acupuncture. The austenitic stainless steel needle is non-ferromagnetic and compatible with MRI. None of these acupuncture needles introduced radiofrequency heating during MRI.

Conclusions The evaluation of MR compatibility showed that gold and austenitic stainless steel needles are MR-compatible and therefore can be used for MRI of acupuncture.

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