Whole-body MR imaging of bone marrow

G P Schmidt, S O Schoenberg, M F Reiser, A Baur-Melnyk
European Journal of Radiology 2005, 55 (1): 33-40
In clinical routine, multimodality algorithms, including X-ray, computed tomography, scintigraphy and MRI, are used in case of suspected bone marrow malignancy. Skeletal scintigraphy is widely used to asses metastatic disease to the bone, CT is the technique of choice to assess criteria of osseous destruction and bone stability. MRI is the only imaging technique that allows direct visualization of bone marrow and its components with high spatial resolution. The combination of unenhanced T1-weighted-spin echo- and turbo-STIR-sequences have shown to be most useful for the detection of bone marrow abnormalities and are able to discriminate benign from malignant bone marrow changes. Originally, whole-body MRI bone marrow screening was performed in sequential scanning techniques of five body levels with time consuming coil rearrangement and repositioning of the patient. The introduction of a rolling platform mounted on top of a conventional MRI examination table facilitated whole-body MR imaging and, with the use of fast gradient echo, T1-weighted and STIR-imaging techniques, for the first time allowed whole-body imaging within less than one hour. With the development of parallel imaging techniques (PAT) in combination with global matrix coil concepts, acquisition time could be reduced substantially without compromises in spatial resolution, enabling the implementation of more complex and flexible examination protocols. Whole-body MRI represents a new alternative to the stepwise multimodality concept for the detection of metastatic disease, multiple myeloma and lymphoma of the bone with high diagnostic accuracy.

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