Purpose: We sought to retrospectively compare the accuracy of a three-dimensional fat-suppressed, fast spin-echo sequences acquired in the sagittal plane, with multiplanar reconstructions to that of two-dimensional fat-suppressed, fast spin echo sequences acquired in three planes on a 3T MR system for the evaluation of articular cartilage in the knee.
Materials and methods: Our study group consisted of all patients (N=34) that underwent 3T MR imaging of the knee at our institution with subsequent arthroscopy over an 18-month period. There were 21 males and 13 females with an average age of 36 years. MR images were reviewed by 3 musculoskeletal radiologists, blinded to operative results. 3D and 2D sequences were reviewed at different sittings separated by 4 weeks to prevent bias. Six cartilage surfaces were evaluated both with MR imaging and arthroscopically with a modified Noyes scoring system and arthroscopic results were used as the gold standard. Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy were calculated for each reader along with Fleiss Kappa assessment agreement between the readers. Accuracies for each articular surface were compared using a difference in proportions test with a 95% confidence interval and statistical significance was calculated using a Fisher's Exact Test.
Results: Two hundred and four articular surfaces were evaluated and 49 articular cartilage lesions were present at arthroscopy. For the patellofemoral surfaces, the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy were 76.5%, 83%, and 78.2% for the 3D sequences and were 82.3%, 76%, and 82% respectively for the 2D sequences. For the medial compartment surfaces, the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy were 81.1%, 65.1%, and 78.5% for the 3D sequences and were 82.5%, 48%, and 76.7% respectively for the 2D sequences. For the lateral compartment surfaces, the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy were 89.3%, 39%, and 79.5% for the 3D sequences and were 94.7%, 18.8%, and 79.5% respectively for the 2D sequences. The accuracies were not significantly different between 3D and 2D sequences. Fleiss Kappa agreement values for the assessment of inter-observer agreement ranged from substantial for the patella and medial femur to moderate for the trochlea and fair for the medial tibia and lateral compartment.
Conclusion: There was no significant difference in accuracy for the evaluation of articular cartilage of a single three-dimensional, fast spin echo sequence with multi-planar reformatted images vs. two-dimensional, fast spin echo sequences acquired in all three imaging planes in the knee.
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