BACKGROUND: Many epidural and peripheral nerve catheters contain conducting wire that could heat during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), requiring removal for scanning. METHODS: We tested 2 each of 6 brands of regional analgesia catheters (from Arrow International [Reading, Pennsylvania], B. Braun Medical Inc [Bethlehem, Pennsylvania], and Smiths Medical/Portex [Keene, New Hampshire]) for exposure to clinical 1.5- and 3-T MRI. Catheters testing as nonmagnetic were placed in an epidural configuration in a standard human torso-sized phantom, and an MRI pulse sequence applied at the maximum scanner-allowed radiofrequency specific absorption rate (SAR) for 15 minutes. Temperature and SAR exposure were sampled during MRI using multiple fiberoptic temperature sensors. RESULTS: Two catheters (the Arrow StimuCath Peripheral Nerve and B. Braun Medical Perifix FX Epidural) were found to be magnetic and not tested further. At 3 T, exposure of the remaining 3 epidural and 1 peripheral nerve catheter to the scanner's maximum RF exposure elicited anomalous heating of 4°C to 7°C in 2 Arrow Epidural (MultiPort and Flex-Tip Plus) catheters at the entry points. Temperature increases for the other catheters at 3 T, and all catheters at 1.5 T were 1.4°C or less. When normalized to the body-average US Food and Drug Administration guideline SAR of 4 W/kg, maximum projected temperature increases were 0.1°C to 2.5°C at 1.5 T and 0.7°C to 2.7°C at 3 T, except for the Arrow MultiPort Flex-Tip Plus catheter at 3 T whose increase was 14°C. CONCLUSIONS: Most but not all catheters can be left in place during 1.5-T MRI scans. Heating of less than 3°C during MRI for most catheters is not expected to be injurious. While heating was lower at 1.5 T versus 3 T, performance differences between products underscore the need for safety testing before performing MRI.