Purpose: To evaluate a magnetic resonance (MR) imaging contrast technique, called FLAIR*, that combines the advantages of T2-weighted fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) contrast and T2*-weighted contrast on a single image for assessment of white matter (WM) diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS).
Materials and methods: This prospective pilot study was HIPAA compliant and institutional review board approved. Ten patients with clinically definite MS (eight men, two women; mean age, 41 years) provided informed consent and underwent 3.0-T MR imaging. Images from a T2-weighted FLAIR sequence were combined with images from a T2*-weighted segmented echo-planar imaging sequence performed during contrast material injection, yielding high-isotropic-resolution (0.55 × 0.55 × 0.55 mm(3)) FLAIR* images. Qualitative assessment was performed for image quality, lesion conspicuity, and vein conspicuity. Contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) was calculated to compare normal-appearing WM (NAWM) with cerebrospinal fluid, lesions, and veins. To evaluate the differences in CNR among imaging modalities, a bootstrap procedure clustered on subjects was used, together with paired t tests.
Results: High-quality FLAIR* images of the brain were produced at 3.0 T, yielding conspicuous lesions and veins. Lesion-to-NAWM and NAWM-to-vein CNR values were significantly higher for FLAIR* images than for T2-weighted FLAIR images (P < .0001). Findings on FLAIR* images included intralesional veins for lesions located throughout the brain and a hypointense rim around some WM lesions.
Conclusion: High-isotropic-resolution FLAIR* images obtained at 3.0 T yield high contrast for WM lesions and parenchymal veins, making it well suited to investigate the relationship between WM abnormalities and veins in a clinical setting.
© RSNA, 2012.