How does low-field MRI compare to standard for lumbar spine imaging?

Tuesday, November 28 | 5:20 p.m.-5:30 p.m. | T8-SSNR09-5 | Room N227B

Low-field MRI (0.55-tesla) produces comparable diagnostic quality images for lumbar spine imaging compared with a standard MRI field strength, according to study results to be presented Tuesday afternoon.

"Routine clinical lumbar spine imaging at 0.55-tesla produces diagnostic quality images and high interreader agreement in diagnosis of routine spinal pathology," wrote presenter Anna Lavrova, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues.

Lavrova's group compared image quality of low-field and standard MRI via a study that included 35 patients who underwent two lumbar spine MRI exams for a total of 665 image series from 70 studies.

Sequences included T2-weighted turbo-spin-echo (TSE), T1-weighted TSE plus contrast enhancement (CE), T2-weighted fat saturation (FS) TSE, short tau inversion recovery (STIR), and T1-weighted TSE FS plus CE.

Two neuroradiologists blinded to the field strength of the exams rated all the sequences for overall imaging quality and presence of artifacts as well as accurate visualization of the intervertebral disc, neural foramina, spinal cord, bone marrow, and conus/cauda equina nerve roots using a four-point Likert scale (1 indicated that a scan was nondiagnostic and 4 that it was excellent).

The study found that low-field MR imaging showed diagnostic image quality when all the sequences were considered in aggregate. What's more, interreader agreement was "substantial" (kappa, 0.786) according to Lavrova and colleagues.

"Spine imaging at 0.55-tesla MRI yields acceptable image quality with a high interreader agreement for routine spinal pathologies," the group concluded.

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