Objective: The purpose of our study was to compare an autocalibrating parallel imaging technique at 3 T with standard acquisitions at 3 and 1.5 T for small-field-of-view imaging of the ankle.
Materials and methods: MRI of the ankle was performed in three fresh human cadaver specimens and three healthy volunteers. Axial and sagittal T1-weighted, axial fat-saturated T2-weighted, and coronal intermediate-weighted fast spin-echo sequences, as well as a fat-saturated spoiled gradient-echo sequence, were acquired at 1.5 and 3 T. At 3 T, reduced data sets were reconstructed using a generalized autocalibrating partially parallel acquisition (GRAPPA) technique, with a scan time reduction of approximately 44%. All images were assessed by two radiologists independently concerning image quality. The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) were measured in every data set. In the cadaver specimens, macroscopic findings after dissection served as a reference for the pathologic evaluation.
Results: SNR and CNR in the GRAPPA images were comparable to the standard acquisition at 3 T. The image quality was rated significantly higher at 3 T with both normal and parallel acquisition compared with 1.5 T. There was no significant difference in ligament and cartilage visualization or in image quality between standard and GRAPPA reconstruction at 3 T. Ankle abnormalities were better seen at 3 T than at 1.5 T for both normal and parallel acquisitions.
Conclusion: Using higher field strength combined with parallel technique, MR images of the ankle were obtained with excellent diagnostic quality and a scan time reduction of about 44%. In addition, parallel imaging can provide more flexibility in protocol design.