Whole-body MRI in children: current status and future applications

Eur J Radiol. 2008 Nov;68(2):289-98. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2008.05.018. Epub 2008 Sep 16.


Whole-body MRI (WBMRI) is a novel technique that makes imaging of the whole patient in a manner similar to scintigraphy or positron emission tomography (PET) possible. Unlike the latter two methods, it is without exposure to radiation and thus gaining increasing importance and application in pediatrics. With the introduction of a moving tabletop, sequential movement of the patient through the magnet has become possible with automatic direct realignment of the images after acquisition. The common scan plane is coronal with additional planes being added depending on the indication. WBMRI is targeted for maximum coverage of the body within the shortest possible time using the minimum number of sequences. The evaluation of the bone marrow has been the primary indication thus inversion recovery sequences like STIR or TIRM are mostly used with the T1-weighted sequence being added variably. For correct evaluation of the bone marrow in the pediatric age group understanding normal pattern of marrow transformation is essential. The primary role of WBMRI has been in oncology for the detection of tumor spread and also for the follow-up and evaluation of complications. The initial comparative studies of WBMRI with scintigraphy and PET in children have shown the high diagnostic potential of WBMRI. Emerging potential applications of WBMRI include the evaluation for osteonecrosis, chronic multifocal recurrent osteomyelitis, myopathies, and generalized vascular malformations. Future use of WBMRI may incorporate non-accidental trauma, virtual autopsy, body fat mapping and diffusion-weighted imaging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autopsy / methods
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / congenital
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Whole Body Imaging*