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Detection of structural lesions of the sacroiliac joints in patients with spondyloarthritis: A comparison of T1-weighted 3D spoiled gradient echo MRI and MRI-based synthetic CT versus T1-weighted turbo spin echo MRI.

Skeletal Radiology 2024 April 10
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the detection of erosion, sclerosis and ankylosis using 1 mm 3D T1-weighted spoiled gradient echo (T1w-GRE) MRI and 1 mm MRI-based synthetic CT (sCT), compared with conventional 4 mm T1w-TSE.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Prospective, cross-sectional study. Semi-coronal 4 mm T1w-TSE and axial T1w-GRE with 1.6 mm slice thickness and 0.8 mm spacing between overlapping slices were performed. The T1w-GRE images were processed into sCT images using a commercial deep learning algorithm, BoneMRI. Both were reconstructed into 1 mm semi-coronal images. T1w-TSE, T1w-GRE and sCT images were assessed independently by 3 expert and 4 non-expert readers for erosion, sclerosis and ankylosis. Cohen's kappa for inter-reader agreement, exact McNemar test for lesion frequencies and Wilcoxon signed-rank test for confidence in lesion detection were used.

RESULTS: Nineteen patients with axial spondyloarthritis were evaluated. T1w-GRE increased inter-reader agreement for detecting erosion (kappa 0.42 vs 0.21 in non-experts), increased detection of erosion (57 vs 43 of 152 joint quadrants) and sclerosis (26 vs 17 of 152 joint quadrants) among experts, and increased reader confidence for scoring erosion and sclerosis. sCT increased inter-reader agreement for detecting sclerosis (kappa 0.69 vs 0.37 in experts) and ankylosis (0.71 vs 0.52 in non-experts), increased detection of sclerosis (34 vs 17 of 152 joint quadrants) and ankylosis (20 vs 13 of 76 joint halves) among experts, and increased reader confidence for scoring erosion, sclerosis and ankylosis.

CONCLUSION: T1w-GRE and sCT increase sensitivity and reader confidence for the detection of erosion, sclerosis and ankylosis, compared with T1w-TSE.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE STATEMENT: These methods improve the detection of sacroiliac joint structural lesions and might be a useful addition to SIJ MRI protocols both in routine clinical care and as structural outcome measures in clinical trials.

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