Study objective: To explore the role of MRI in the differential diagnosis of pleural disease.
Patients: Forty-two patients with pleural disease were included.
Method: Retrospective study. All patients were examined with both CT and MRI. The morphologic features of pleural lesions and magnetic resonance signal intensity on T1-weighted, T2-weighted, and contrast-enhanced T1-weighted images were evaluated.
Results: Mediastinal pleural involvement, circumferential pleural thickening, nodularity, irregularity of pleural contour, and infiltration of the chest wall and/or diaphragm were most suggestive of a malignant cause both on CT and MRI. Pleural calcification on CT was suggestive of a benign cause. Contrary to what has been previously reported in the literature, neither on CT nor on MRI, pleural thickness >1 cm revealed significant difference between malignant and benign pleural disease (p>0.05, chi(2) test). High signal intensity in relation to intercostal muscles on T2-weighted and/or contrast-enhanced T1-weighted images was significantly suggestive for a malignant disease. Using morphologic features in combination with the signal intensity features, MRI had a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 93% in the detection of pleural malignancy.
Conclusion: When signal intensity and morphologic features are assessed, MRI is more useful and therefore superior to CT in differentiation of malignant from benign pleural disease.