MRI acoustic noise can harm experimental and companion animals

Amanda M. Lauer, Abdel Monem M. El-Sharkawy, Dara L. Kraitchman, William A. Edelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose: To assess possible damage to the hearing of experimental and companion animal subjects of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Materials and Methods: Using animal hearing threshold data and sound level measurements from typical MRI pulse sequences, we estimated "equivalent loudness" experienced by several experimental and companion animals commonly subjects of MRI scans. We compared the equivalent loudness and exam duration to safe noise standards set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Results: Monkeys, dogs, cats, pigs, and rabbits are frequently exposed to equivalent loudness levels during MRI scans beyond what is considered safe for human exposure. The sensitive frequency ranges for rats and mice are shifted substantially upward and their equivalent loudness levels fall within the NIOSH safe zone. Conclusion: MRI exposes many animals to levels of noise and duration that would exceed NIOSH human exposure limits. Researchers and veterinarians should use hearing protection for animals during MRI scans. Experimental research animals used in MRI studies are frequently kept and reimaged, and hearing loss could result in changed behavior. Damage to companion animals' hearing could make them less sensitive to commands and generally worsen interactions with family members. Much quieter MRI scanners would help decrease stress and potential harm to scanned animals, normalize physiology during MRI, and enable MRI of awake animals. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2012;36:743-747.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-747
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • acoustic noise
  • animal MRI
  • companion animals
  • health and safety
  • veterinary MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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