The Increasing Spectrum of Indications of Whole-Body MRI Beyond Oncology: Imaging Answers to Clinical Needs

Semin Musculoskelet Radiol. 2015 Sep;19(4):348-62. doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1564695. Epub 2015 Nov 19.


Whole-body coverage using MRI was developed almost 2 decades ago. The first applications focused on the investigation of the skeleton to detect neoplastic disease, mainly metastases from solid cancers, and involvement by multiple myeloma and lymphoma. But the extensive coverage of the whole musculoskeletal system, combined with the exquisite sensitivity of MRI to tissue alteration in relation to different pathologic conditions, mainly inflammation, has led to the identification of a growing number of indications outside oncology. Seronegative rheumatisms, systemic sclerosis, inflammatory diseases involving muscles or fascias, and multifocal osseous, vascular, or neurologic diseases represent currently validated or emerging indications of whole-body MRI (WB-MRI). We first illustrate the most valuable indications of WB-MRI in seronegative rheumatisms that include providing significant diagnostic information in patients with negative or ambiguous MRI of the sacroiliac joints and the lumbar spine, assessing disease activity in advanced (ankylosed) central disease, and evaluating the peripherally dominant forms of spondyloarthropathy. Then we review the increasing indications of WB-MRI in other rheumatologic and nonneoplastic disorders, underline the clinical needs, and illustrate the role of WB-MRI in the positive diagnosis and evaluation of disease burden, therapeutic decisions, and treatment monitoring.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / pathology*
  • Whole Body Imaging / methods*