Comparison of 3D double inversion recovery and 2D STIR FLAIR MR sequences for the imaging of optic neuritis: pilot study

Eur Radiol. 2014 Dec;24(12):3069-75. doi: 10.1007/s00330-014-3342-3. Epub 2014 Aug 23.


Objectives: We compared the three-dimensional (3D) double inversion recovery (DIR) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequence with the coronal two-dimensional (2D) short tau inversion recovery (STIR) fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) for the detection of optic nerve signal abnormality in patients with optic neuritis (ON).

Methods: The study group consisted of 31 patients with ON (44 pathological nerves) confirmed by visual-evoked potentials used as the reference. MRI examinations included 2D coronal STIR FLAIR and 3D DIR with 3-mm coronal reformats to match with STIR FLAIR. Image artefacts were graded for each portion of the optic nerves. Each set of MR images (2D STIR FLAIR, DIR reformats and multiplanar 3D DIR) was examined independently and separately for the detection of signal abnormality.

Results: Cisternal portion of optic nerves was better delineated with DIR (p < 0.001), while artefacts impaired analysis in four patients with STIR FLAIR. Inter-observer agreement was significantly improved (p < 0.001) on 3D DIR (κ = 0.96) compared with STIR FLAIR images (κ = 0.60). Multiplanar DIR images reached the best performance for the diagnosis of ON (95% sensitive and 94% specific).

Conclusions: Our study showed a high sensitivity and specificity of 3D DIR compared with STIR FLAIR for the detection of ON. These findings suggest that the 3D DIR sequence may be more useful in patients suspected of ON.

Key points: 3D DIR is increasingly used in neuroradiology. Compared with STIR FLAIR, 3D DIR improves detection of optic neuritis. Multiplanar analysis had the best diagnostic performance for optic nerve signal abnormalities. Sensitivity was 95% and specificity 94%. Findings support the use of 3D DIR instead of 2D sequences.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Artifacts
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Optic Neuritis / diagnosis*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sensitivity and Specificity