Part I (written exam) – Magnetic Resonance Science


Exam Description

The American Board of Medical Physics offers Certification in Magnetic Resonance Imaging Physics by examination, which began in 1998. Applicants are required to pass either the ABMP’s Part I examination in General Medical Physics (which can also be applied toward partial completion of certification in Medical Health Physics) or the Part I examination in MR Science, described below. Alternatively, those who wish to waive the requirement to take the Part I examination, should submit written documentation indicating that they have already passed the Part I examination in Medical Physics administered by the American Board of Radiology or its equivalent.

The Part I examination is a written exam and consists of matching (Type B), multiple choice (Type A), and multiple true-false questions (Type K). Examples of these types of test items are given below. The examination is designed to determine the competence of the candidate in fundamental aspects of various areas of science that are directly related to use of magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy as a clinical diagnostic modality, adjunct to medical therapeutic regimens and scientific research tool for studies on human beings.

Upon successfully passing the prerequisite examination (Part I) in either General Medical Physics or Magnetic Resonance Science, and both the written (Part II) and oral (Part III) examinations in Magnetic Resonance Imaging Physics, the candidate may be identified as a Certified Medical Physicist or more specifically, as a Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Physics with a Special Competence in Magnetic Resonance Imaging Physics.

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Examination Content Outline

Atomic & Nuclear Physics 15%
Chemistry & Biochemistry 15%
Anatomy & Physiology 15%
Medical Biophysics 15%
Imaging Science and Image Processing 15%
Medical & Radiological Practice 15%
Clinical Statistics & Random Error Analysis 10%

Atomic and Nuclear Physics (15%)

  1. The Electromagnetic Spectrum
    • the major divisional components of the spectrum and their frequency, wavelength and energy relationships
  2. The Electronic Structure of Atoms
    • electron energy states
    • electron spin and magnetic moment
    • periodic table
    • the source of magnetism in transition elements
  3. Nuclear Structure
    • nucleon and elementary particle composition of nuclei
    • nuclear spin angular momentum and magnetic moment
    • modes of radioactive decay and their mathematical descriptions
  4. Interactions of Radiation with Matter
    • interaction of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation with matter (tissue) and with emphasis on low energy photon dissipation and subsequent hazard

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Chemistry and Biochemistry (15%)

  1. Molecular Bonding
    • ionic bonding
    • covalent bonding
    • van der Waals interactions
    • hydrogen bonding
  2. Molecular Architecture
    • role of the atomic valence state in governing the 3-D molecular structure and its electrical properties
  3. Biologically Important Molecules
    • Amino acids giving rise to proteins
    • Glucose giving rise to carbohydrates
    • Fatty acids giving rise to lipids
  4. Energy Metabolism
    • concepts of pH and free energy
    • roles of ATP, ADP and phosphocreatine
    • Krebs cycle (citric acid cycle)
    • protein synthesis
  5. Brain Biochemistry
    • aerobic glycolysis
    • anaerobic glycolysis
    • fatty acid oxidation
  6. Biochemistry of Exogenous Compounds
    • Neuron-astrocyte amino acid neurotransmitter cycle
    • Phosphoinositide system
    • Fluorinated anti-cancer drugs, anesthetics,etc.
    • Fluorodeoxyglucose metabolism

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Anatomy and Physiology (15%)

  1. Central Nervous System
    • the major structural components of the brain and their function
    • spinal cord anatomy
    • peripheral distribution of spinal nerves
  2. Cardiovascular System
    • anatomy of the heart and its functional components
    • function of the heart on electrocardiogram
    • the vascular system, circulation and function of blood
  3. Genitourinary System
    • renal system anatomy and function
    • urinary tract anatomy
    • reproductive system anatomy
  4. Musculoskeletal System
    • Anatomy of the vertebral column
    • limbs and knee joint, articulation of the knee
    • organization of muscle fibers and their contraction
  5. Examples of typical anatomical and physiological features readily seen in MR images

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Medical Biophysics (15%)

  1. Mechanics of Bulk Fluids
    • physical characteristics of non-viscous Newtonian fluids
    • laminar flow and Reynolds number
    • physical characteristics of non-Newtonian fluids
    • pulsatile flow and tissue blood flow
  2. Micro-movement of Fluids
    • diffusion
    • perfusion
  3. Active membrane Transport
    • sodium and potassium pumps
    • glucose transporter
  4. Bioelectricity & Biomagnetism
    • electrical properties of nerves
    • principles of the electrocardiogram

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Imaging Science and Image Processing (15%)

  1. Imaging Modalities
    • X-ray Imaging
      1. sources of contrast
      2. image receptors
    • Dynamic Imaging (Fluoroscopy)
    • Computed Tomography
      1. concept of filtered back-projection reconstruction
    • Nuclear Medicine Imaging
      1. radiation detectors
      2. image formation (planar, Anger camera, SPECT, PET)
      3. common radiopharmaceuticals and their applications
  2. Image Quality
    • spatial resolution
    • point and line spread functions
    • modulation transfer function
    • image noise
      1. signal to noise ratio
      2. Rose criterion
    • image contrast
      1. subject contrast
      2. instrument contrast
      3. contrast-to-noise ratio
  3. Image Processing
    • sampling and aliasing
    • Nyquist criterion
    • reconstruction
      1. back-projection reconstruction
      2. Fourier sampling reconstruction
    • basic image processing
      1. smoothing, edge enhancement, zero-filling
      2. convolution and deconvolution
      3. digital low pass (Hanning, Hamming & Butterworth)
      4. image enhancements (smoothing, edge sharpening)
  4. Modality Comparisons
    • Image quality and diagnostic strengths of radiography (film, CR & DR) MRI, CT, SPECT & PET

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Medical and Radiological Practice (15%)

  1. Basic Medical Imaging Terminology
    • terminology encountered in the daily functions of a fully equipped, practicing diagnostic imaging facility
  2. Imaging Contrast Agents
    • their purpose, efficacy, safety, and cost
  3. The Scope of MRI in a Radiology Department
    • the contribution which MRI makes in a typical diagnostic imaging facility to the diagnosis of cancer (e.g., breast cancer), of diseases of the CNS, (e.g., white matter disease, stroke, and spinal disorders), of cardiovascular disease (e.g., great vessel integrity), in addition to the therapeutic contributions in stereotactic and radio surgery

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Clinical Statistics and Random Error Analysis (10%)

  1. Location and Dispersion Indices
    • Mean
    • Median
    • Mode
    • Variance
    • Standard deviation
    • Full Width at Half Maximum (FWHM)
  2. Statistical Distributions
    • Binomial distribution
    • Poisson distribution
    • Gaussian distribution
    • Rayleigh distribution
  3. Tests of Hypotheses
    • Student’s t-test and power analysis
    • Chi-squared test
  4. Linear least squares fitting
    • Least squares analysis (linear, logarithmic)
    • Lagrangian interpolation
  5. Measurements of Clinical Accuracy & Agreement
    • Sensitivity, specificity, accuracy
    • Positive and negative predictive values
    • Bayesian analysis
    • Bland-Altman analysis

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Example of Test Items

Type A (one question per item):
1. Which type of detector is typically used for modern x-ray computed tomography imaging?

  1. Radio frequency coil
  2. Piezoelectric crystal
  3. Ceramic scintillator
  4. Cesium iodide crystal
  5. Geiger counter

2. The “power” of a statistical test is equal to:

  1. 6*a/N
  2. g
  3. C2
  4. 1-b
  5. r-1

3. An x-ray examination in which dye is injected into the dura surrounding the spinal cord and nerves is called:

  1. myelography
  2. radiculopathy
  3. salpinography
  4. angiography
  5. craniography

Type B (multiple questions per item):
1. Match the enzyme with the biochemical process:

  1. phosphoglucomutase
  2. glucose 6-phosphotase
  3. pyruvate kinase
  4. phosphoglycerate kinase
  5. creatine kinase

2. phosphorylation of ADP to create ATP plus pyruvate
3. phosphorylation of glucose
4. dephosphorylation of glucose 6-phosphate
5. transfer of a phosphate group to ATP from phosphocreatine:

Type K (one question per item)
6. Which arteries are found in the Circle of Willis?
(1) ophthalmic artery

(2) middle cerebral artery

(3) basilar artery

(4) posterior communicating artery

A. (1),(2) and (3) only are correct
B. (1) and (3) only are correct
C. (2) and (4) only are correct
D. (4) only is correct
E. All are correct

Type S (multiple questions per item)
S01. Answer questions 7-9 using the following information:

An ionizing radiation detector collects a background count of 300 over 10 minutes, and the sample count is 1200 over one minute.

7. What is the percent standard deviation of the sample count measurement?

a. 1%
b. 3%
c. 6%
d. 9%
e. 15%

8. What is the net counting rate?

a. 115 cpm
b. 470 cpm
c. 1170 cpm
d. 1500 cpm
e. 1800 cpm

9. Which of the following probability distribution functions is most apprpriate for modeling these data?

a. Lorentzian distribution.
b. Gaussian distribution.
c. Poisson distribution.
d. Rayleigh distribution.
e. Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution

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Suggested Reading

  • JR Cameron, JG Skofronick, RM Grant. Physics of the Body, 2nd edition.  Madison, WI. Medical Physics Publishing,1999. ISBN:  9780944838914
  • RK Hobbie, BJ Roth. Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology, 5th edition. Cham, Switzerland. Springer International Publishing, 2015. Softcover ISBN: 978-3-319-30768-8
  • JT Bushberg, JA Seibert, JMB Boone, EM Leidholdt. The Essential Physics of Medical Imaging, 3rd edition. Philadelphia, PA. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2011. ISBN: 9780781780575
  • JA Parker. Image Reconstruction in Radiology. Boca Raton, FL. CRC Press,1991. ISBN: 0849301505, 9780849301506
  • DL Nelson, MM Cox. Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry, 6th Edition  New York, NY. WH Freeman, WH & Company, 2012. ISBN: 9781429234146
  • KL Moore, AF Dalley, Anne MR Agur. Clinically Oriented Anatomy, 7th edition. USA. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013. ISBN: 9781451119459
  • PP Dendy, B Heaton. Physics for Diagnostic Radiology, 3rd edition. USA. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, 2011. ISBN: 9781420083156
  • R Glaser. Biophysics An Introduction, 2nd edition. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2012. ISBN: 9783642252112
  •  JE Hall. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology, 13th edition. USA. Elsevier, 2016, ISBN: 9781455770052

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