Purpose: To evaluate the usefulness of a low field MRI system (0.2T; Esaote, Biomedica) for the evaluation of meniscal tears with regard to anatomic site, and to compare the results with findings from a high field unit (1.5T; Siemens, Erlangen).
Material and methods: MRI was performed in 25 patients in a low field (0.2T; Esaote, Biomedica), and a high field (1.5T; Siemens, Erlangen) MRI unit. The images were analyzed for the presence or absence of meniscal tears and the confidence of decision making. Results were further analyzed for the number of identical and unidentical findings on both imaging modalities. In seven patients, arthroscopy was performed and the findings compared with the results from MR imaging. Statistical analysis was performed by chi 2-test, Wilcoxon test and Friedman analysis.
Results: Qualitative evaluation of the level of confidence in decision making was significantly superior on high field strength images. When comparing the evaluations from both image modalities in 21 of 25 patients (84%), the diagnosis concerning the presence or absence of meniscal tears was identical.
Conclusion: Although low field MR imaging might offer diagnostic potential concerning the presence or absence of meniscal tears, the level of confidence in decision making is significantly superior with high field strength imaging, probably reflecting the higher conspicuity of lesions from high field strength units.