Purpose: Approximately 4000 volunteers will undergo whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (WB-MRI) within the next 3 years in the population-based Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP). Here we present a pilot study conducted (a) to determine the feasibility of adding a WB-MRI protocol to a large-scale population-based study, (b) to evaluate the reliability of standardized MRI interpretation, and (c) to establish an approach for handling pathological findings.
Materials and methods: The institutional review board approved the study, and oral and written informed consent was obtained from each participant. Two hundred healthy volunteers (99 women, 101 men; mean age 48.3 years) underwent a standardized WB-MRI protocol. The protocol was supplemented by contrast-enhanced cardiac MRI and magnetic resonance (MR) angiography in 61 men (60.4%) and cardiac MRI and MR mammography in 44 women (44.4%). MR scans were evaluated independently by two readers. Abnormalities were discussed by an advisory board and classified according to the need for further clinical work-up.
Results: One hundred ninety-four (97.0%) WB-MRI examinations were successfully completed in a mean scan time per subject of 90 minutes. There were 431 pathological findings in 176 (88%) of the participants. Of those 45 (10.4%) required further clinical work-up and 386 (89.6%) characterized as benign lesions did not. The interobserver agreement for the detection of pathological findings was excellent (kappa = 0.799).
Conclusion: The preliminary results presented here indicate that a large prospective, population-based study using WB-MRI is feasible and that the results of image analysis are reproducible. A variety of positive findings provide valuable information regarding disease prevalence in a general adult population.