Diagnostic value of contrast-enhanced fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery MRI for intracranial tumors in comparison with post-contrast T1W spin-echo MRI

Zheng-rong Zhou, Tian-zhen Shen, Xing-rong Chen, Wei-jun Peng
Chinese Medical Journal 2006 March 20, 119 (6): 467-73

BACKGROUND: Contrast-enhanced fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery (FLAIR) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been reported to have higher sensitivity for detecting leptomeningeal disease compared with contrast-enhanced T1-weighted MRI (CE T1WI). However, currently there are no studies showing the potential value of clinical applications of contrast-enhanced FLAIR (CE FLAIR) sequence in diagnosing intracranial tumors in a larger group of patients. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic value of CE FLAIR in comparison with CE T1WI for intracranial tumors and to provide more information for clinical diagnosis and therapy.

METHODS: One hundred and four consecutive cases of intracranial tumors referred for CE brain MRI were analyzed with regard to FLAIR and T1WI pre- and post-administration of Gd-DTPA. The CE FLAIR and CE T1WI were evaluated independently by two radiologists for the number of examinations with one or more enhanced lesions, the number and location of enhanced lesions per examination, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and contrast-enhancement ratio (CER) of lesions, as well as the size and extent of the enhanced lesions.

RESULTS: In 98 of 104 cases, enhanced lesions were seen both on the FLAIR and T1W images. More lesions were seen on CE T1WI (n = 120) than those on CE FLAIR sequence (n = 117), but no differences of statistical significance were found between the two sequences (P > 0.05). Four lesions were revealed only on the CE FLAIR images whereas 7 lesions were only found on CE T1WI. Enhanced lesions located in the cerebral hemisphere or the forth ventricle were revealed much more on CE T1WI than on CE FLAIR images. However, CE FLAIR images may be useful in showing superficial abnormalities and those located in the sulcus or lateral ventricle. The CER and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) on CE T1WI was significantly higher (t = 7.10, P = 0.00; t = 9.67, P = 0.00, respectively), but grey matter/white matter contrast was lower (t = 2.46, P = 0.02) than those on CE FLAIR images. The SNR did not show any statistically significant difference between the two sequences (t = 1.1, P = 0.27). The size and extent of lesions on the CE FLAIR images were significantly larger than those on CE T1WI (t = 4.13, P = 0.00).

CONCLUSIONS: CE FLAIR and CE T1WI may complement each other in showing intracranial tumors and the CE FLAIR sequence should be selected as a routine MRI sequence.

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