Magnetic-resonance-based electrical properties tomography: A review

Xiaotong Zhang, Jiaen Liu, Bin He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Frequency-dependent electrical properties (EPs; conductivity and permittivity) of biological tissues provide important diagnostic information (e.g., tumor characterization), and also play an important role in quantifying radiofrequency (RF) coil induced specific absorption rate (SAR), which is a major safety concern in high-and ultrahigh-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) applications. Cross-sectional imaging of EPs has been pursued for decades. Recently introduced electrical properties tomography (EPT) approaches utilize the measurable RF magnetic field induced by the RF coil in an MRI system to quantitatively reconstruct the EP distribution in vivo and noninvasively with a spatial resolution of a few millimeters or less. This paper reviews the EPT approach from its basic theory in electromagnetism to the state-of-the-art research outcomes. Emphasizing on the imaging reconstruction methods rather than experimentation techniques, we review the developed imaging algorithms, validation results in physical phantoms and biological tissues, as well as their applications in in vivo tumor detection and subject-specific SAR prediction. Challenges for future research are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6701123
Pages (from-to)87-96
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Reviews in Biomedical Engineering
StatePublished - 2014


  • Bioimpedance
  • electrical properties tomography (EPT)
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • specific absorption rate (SAR)


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