3T MRI in evaluation of asbestos-related thoracic diseases – preliminary results

Janez Podobnik, Igor Kocijancic, Viljem Kovac, Igor Sersa


Background. 3T high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners have recently become available for the clinical use and are being increasingly applied in the field of whole-body imaging and chest imaging as well. The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic potential of 3 T MRI as a complementary imaging modality to CT in detecting the pathological changes of asbestos-related thoracic diseases.

Patients and methods. Fifteen patients with the asbestos-related thoracic disease were scheduled for 3T MRI. Five had a benign form of the disease and 10 had malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). From the patients with a benign form of the disease their last CT examination in digital form was acquired and patients with MPM were scheduled for CT examination with contrast media. The protocol of MR imaging consists of T2-weighted cardiac-gated breathhold turbo spin echo (TSE) sequences in coronal, sagittal and axial plane and T1-weighted cardiac-gated breath-hold TSE black blood in axial plane. In T2-weighted sequences in axial plane, fat saturation was also used. CT examinations were obtained with the administration of the contrast medium from lung apices to the lower end of the liver. Images of 5 mm (mediastinum window) and 3 mm (lung window) in axial plan were reconstructed. MRI signal intensity of lesions and adjacent muscles on Syngo MultiModality Work Place were measured.

Results. Compared to muscles pleural plaques appeared hypo-intense to iso-intense on T1 weighted images (in 100%) and also hypo-intense on T2 fs-weighted images (in 100%). MPM appeared inhomogeneous hypo-intense to iso-intense on T1-weighted and hyperintense on T2 fs-weighted images in all patients (100%).

Conclusions. These preliminary results pointed out that MRI was equal or even better compared with CT examination for detecting possible malignant potential of pleural changes in the asbestos-related pleural disease, using signal intensity measurements of T2 fs-weighted images. The 3T MRI enabled the accurate determination of chest pathology and it could be used for imaging of patients with the asbestos-related thoracic disease. MRI is particularly valuable because a patient is not exposed to the harmful radiation which is important if imaging methods are used repeatedly, like in screening programs or in monitoring of treatment results. This finding turned us to propose 3T MRI imaging technique as a non-ionizing imaging method for the follow-up of patients with the isolated pleural form of the asbestos-related disease.

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RADIOLOGY AND ONCOLOGY, Association of Radiology and Oncology,
Zaloska 2, P.O.Box 2217, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, T/F: +386 1 5879 434, Open access on the web: ISSN 1518-3207, De Gruyter
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