Objective: Volumetric interpolated breath-hold examination (VIBE) is a relatively new gradient-echo MR sequence that is capable of shortening acquisition times and is reported to be useful in abdominal and brain imaging. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using VIBE images as a substitute for conventional postcontrast spin-echo T1-weighted images in the assessment of head and neck tumors.
Subjects and methods: The subjects were 33 consecutive patients referred for MRI for preoperative assessment of head and neck tumors. After administration of gadodiamide hydrate, images were obtained using postcontrast fat-saturated VIBE sequence for a 35-sec acquisition time and then a postcontrast fat-saturated spin-echo T1-weighted sequence for a 269-sec acquisition time ( approximately 4.5 min). Quantitative comparisons of the two methods were made by calculating signal-to-noise and contrast-to-noise ratios for both methods, and qualitative comparisons were made on the basis of the scoring of three independent reviewers concerning image quality and tumor conspicuity.
Results: No significant difference was detected quantitatively between the two sequences. However, in qualitative assessments, the degree of image degradation by artifacts was significantly smaller for VIBE images than for spin-echo T1-weighted images (p = 0.029).
Conclusion: In preoperative evaluations of head and neck tumors, the postcontrast VIBE sequence is capable of decreasing acquisition time without degrading image quality or tumor conspicuity; thus, it is an acceptable alternative to postcontrast spin-echo T1-weighted imaging.