Objectives: To compare high-field, high-resolution, susceptibility-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (3 Tesla [T] HR-SW-MRI) and standard (1.5 Tesla [T]) MRI for the detection of cerebral cavernomas. To evaluate the ability of 3 T HR-SW-MRI to visualize intralesional structures compared with standard (1.5 T) MRI, in correlation with histopathologic findings.
Materials and methods: Seventeen patients with cerebral cavernomas underwent both standard (1.5 T) MRI (T1-SE, T2-TSE, T2*-GRE) and 3 T HR-SW-MRI (TR/TE 43.3/9.1 millisecond; 512 x 384 x 48 matrix; FOV 250 mm; SI 72 mm) at our institution. All MR images were evaluated by 3 radiologists in consensus for detectability, size (</>1 cm), and conspicuity (good, acceptable, poor) of the lesions at both field strengths, and for the presence of hypointense intralesional tubular structures. In 7 patients, MR findings were correlated with histopathologic findings.
Results: Both 3 T HR-SW-MRI and standard (1.5 T) MRI detected 22 lesions in 17 patients; 3 T HR-SW-MRI detected an additional 7 lesions in 6 patients. On average, 3 T HR-SW-MRI detected 1.706 +/- 0.92 (median = 1) lesions per patient, whereas standard (1.5 T) MRI detected 1.235 +/- 0.664 lesions per patient (P = 0.016). Lesion conspicuity was good in all 3 T HR-SW-MR images and good in 68.2% and acceptable in 31.8% of standard (1.5 T) MR images (P = 0.016). In 22 lesions detected at both field strengths, 3 T HR-SW-MRI demonstrated intralesional tubular structures in 72.7% and standard (1.5 T) MRI demonstrated these structures in 31.8% (P = 0.001). Intralesional tubular structure correlated to conglomerates of cavernous vessel, as verified by histopathology.
Conclusion: Compared with standard (1.5 T) MRI, 3 T HR-SW-MRI allows superior detection and characterization of cerebral cavernomas. Despite increased susceptibility effects, ie, signal loss at higher magnetic field strengths, the visualization of intralesional tubular structures is feasible. This may be helpful in the diagnosis, presurgical planning, and noninvasive follow-up after gamma-knife radiosurgery.