Background: Standard magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomographic (CT) modalities are limited in their ability to image dynamic organs. New real-time, dynamic, cine magnetic resonance imaging (CMRI) techniques have the potential to image moving structures.
Objective: We therefore investigated the feasibility of using CMRI techniques to dynamically image the human airway, to assess laryngeal and tracheal patency and function.
Methods: A cohort of 10 pediatric patients, 10 adult patients, and 10 normal volunteers underwent routine static MRI, as well as CMRI using a Siemens 1.5 T Vision system (Siemens, Erlangen, Germany). Patients also underwent endoscopic evaluation. Cine axial, coronal, and sagittal sequences of the larynx and trachea were obtained during quiet respiration, as well as during a variety of provocative maneuvers.
Results: CMRI readily demonstrated normal vocal cord mobility and tracheal stability in normal volunteers. Abnormal vocal mobility was easily appreciated using the CMRI imaging system. Similarly, dynamic effects of tracheomalacia were clearly demonstrated using CMRI. Dynamic extrinsic tracheal compression resulting from mass lesions or anomalous vasculature was also visualized using CMRI.
Conclusions: Cine MRI of the airway has the potential to provide novel data regarding laryngeal and tracheal patency and function. This evolving modality may serve as a valuable adjunct to static MR and CT imaging, as well as endoscopy, in the assessment of the airway.