Purpose: To determine the clinical utility of gadolinium-enhanced fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery (FLAIR) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the brain by comparing results with those at gadolinium-enhanced T1-weighted MR imaging with magnetization transfer (MT) saturation.
Materials and methods: In 105 consecutive patients referred for gadolinium-enhanced brain imaging, FLAIR and T1-weighted MR imaging with MT saturation were performed before and after administration of gadopentetate dimeglumine (0.1 mmol per kilogram of body weight). Pre- and postcontrast images were evaluated to determine the presence of abnormal contrast enhancement and whether enhancement was more conspicuous with the FLAIR or T1-weighted sequences.
Results: Thirty-nine studies showed intracranial contrast enhancement. Postcontrast T1-weighted images with MT saturation showed superior enhancement in 14 studies, whereas postcontrast fast FLAIR images showed superior enhancement in 15 studies. Four cases demonstrated approximately equal contrast enhancement with both sequences. Six cases showed some areas of enhancement better with T1-weighted imaging with MT saturation and other areas better with postcontrast fast FLAIR imaging. Superficial enhancement was typically better seen with postcontrast fast FLAIR imaging.
Conclusion: Fast FLAIR images have noticeable T1 contrast making gadolinium-induced enhancement visible. Gadolinium enhancement in lesions that are hyperintense on precontrast FLAIR images, such as intraparenchymal tumors, may be better seen on T1-weighted images than on postcontrast fast FLAIR images. However, postcontrast fast FLAIR images may be useful for detecting superficial abnormalities, such as meningeal disease, because they do not demonstrate contrast enhancement of vessels with slow flow as do T1-weighted images.