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Value of MR imaging in the evaluation of chronic infiltrative lung diseases: comparison with CT

N L Müller, J R Mayo, C V Zwirewich
AJR. American Journal of Roentgenology 1992, 158 (6): 1205-9
The value of MR imaging was compared with that of high-resolution CT in assessing chronic infiltrative lung disease in 25 patients. The cases included nine patients with usual interstitial pneumonia, six with sarcoidosis, four with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and six with miscellaneous conditions. The diagnosis was proved by biopsy (n = 17) or by means of clinical, laboratory, and radiologic criteria (n = 8). All patients had 1.5-T MR imaging and CT of the chest. Cardiac-gated T1-, proton density-, and T2-weighted spin-echo sequences were obtained. Initially, the MR images were assessed independently; later they were compared directly with the corresponding CT scans. In six patients, MR images and CT scans were obtained before open lung biopsy, and the images and scans were assessed prospectively. CT was superior to MR imaging in the anatomic assessment of the lung parenchyma and in showing fibrosis. However, areas of air-space opacification (ground-glass opacities) were seen as well on MR as on high-resolution CT. In the six patients who had open lung biopsy, areas of air-space opacification seen on MR and on CT corresponded to areas of active alveolitis or air-space infiltrates pathologically. Follow-up in six patients showed equal degrees of change in the air-space opacification over time on MR and CT. We conclude that, although MR imaging is inferior to high-resolution CT in the assessment of chronic infiltrative lung diseases, it may play a role in the assessment and follow-up of patients with air-space opacification.

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