Electrical Properties Tomography Based on B1 Maps in MRI: Principles, Applications, and Challenges

Jiaen Liu, Yicun Wang, Ulrich Katscher, Bin He

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose is to provide a comprehensive review of the electrical properties tomography (EPT) technique, which was introduced to image the electrical properties (EPs) of tissue noninvasively by exploiting the measured B1 field data of MRI. Methods: We reviewed the principle of EPT, reconstruction methods, biomedical applications such as tumor imaging, and existing challenges. As a key application of EPT, the estimation of specific absorption rate (SAR) due to MRI was discussed in the background of elevated risk of tissue heating at high field. Results and Conclusion: Since the originally proposed local, homogeneous Helmholtz equation-based reconstruction algorithm, advanced EPT algorithms have emerged to address the challenges of EPT, including reconstruction error near tissue boundaries, noise sensitivity, inaccurate B1 phase estimation, and elimination of the unmeasurable Bz component, along with demonstrations of in vivo experiments. EPT techniques have been applied to investigate EPs of both healthy and pathological tissues in vivo and factors contributing to various EP value, including sodium, water content, etc. More studies are anticipated to consolidate the current findings. EPT-based subject-specific SAR estimation has led to in vivo demonstration of its feasibility and prediction of temperature increase of phantom during MRI scans merely using measured B1 data. Significance: EPT has the advantage of high resolution and practical feasibility in a clinical setup for imaging the biomedically interesting EPs of tissue in the radiofrequency range. EPT-based SAR estimation is another promising topic for predicting tissue heating of individual subjects during a specific MRI scan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8013709
Pages (from-to)2515-2530
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received March 12, 2017; revised May 23, 2017; accepted June 25, 2017. Date of publication August 21, 2017; date of current version October 18, 2017. This work was supported in part by NIH EB017069, EB014353, EB021027, NS096761, EY023101, and HL117664. (Corresponding author: Bin He.) J. Liu is with the Advanced MRI Section, Laboratory of Functional and Molecular Imaging, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 IEEE.


  • B-mapping
  • EPT
  • MRI
  • electrical properties
  • electrical properties tomography
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • quantitative magnetic resonance imaging


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