MRI of the cervical spine with 3D gradient echo sequence at 3 T: initial experience

Clin Radiol. 2015 Sep;70(9):926-31. doi: 10.1016/j.crad.2015.05.012. Epub 2015 Jul 3.


Aim: The aim of this study was to compare three-dimensional (3D) high resolution T2*-weighted gradient echo (3D FFE) magnetic resonance (MR) sequence with conventional 2D T2-weighted turbo spin echo (TSE) MR sequence for imaging of the cervical spine, especially to assess the detectability of the internal anatomy of the cervical spinal cord, i.e. to distinguish the grey and white matter.

Methods: Fifteen volunteers were examined at 3.0T MR unit. Signal-to-noise (SNR), contrast-to-noise (CNR) and image homogeneity were evaluated. In the visual analysis, the visibility of anatomical structures of the cervical spine and artifacts were assessed. The nonparametric method of paired sample t-test was adopted to evaluate the differences between the sequences.

Results: The 3D FFE sequence provided better results for CNR, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) versus white matter, grey matter, disk and bone. Moreover, it yielded good results for the CNR grey matter versus white matter. The butterfly-shaped "H" is clearly displayed in the 3D FFE sequence. The statistical analysis revealed the statistically significant difference between the 2D TSE and 3D FFE sequences for the contrast of CSF versus spinal cord (both grey matter and white matter).

Conclusion: The 3D FFE sequence in MR imaging of the cervical spinal cord is superior in delineation of spinal cord anatomical structures compared to 2D TSE sequence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Artifacts
  • Cervical Vertebrae / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spinal Cord / anatomy & histology*