Lung morphology assessment of cystic fibrosis using MRI with ultra-short echo time at submillimeter spatial resolution

Eur Radiol. 2016 Nov;26(11):3811-3820. doi: 10.1007/s00330-016-4218-5. Epub 2016 Feb 2.


Objectives: We hypothesized that non-contrast-enhanced PETRA (pointwise encoding time reduction with radial acquisition) MR (magnetic resonance) sequencing could be an alternative to unenhanced computed tomography (CT) in assessing cystic fibrosis (CF) lung structural alterations, as well as compared agreements and concordances with those of conventional T1-weighted and T2-weighted sequences.

Material and methods: Thirty consecutive CF patients completed both CT and MRI the same day. No contrast injection was used. Agreement in identifying structural alterations was evaluated at the segmental level using a kappa test. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) and Bland-Altman analysis were used to assess concordances and reproducibility in Helbich-Bhalla disease severity scoring.

Results: Agreement between PETRA and CT was higher than that of T1- or T2-weighted sequences, notably in assessing the segmental presence of bronchiectasis (Kappa = 0.83; 0.51; 0.49, respectively). The concordance in Helbich-Bhalla scores was very good using PETRA (ICC = 0.97), independently from its magnitude (mean difference (MD) = -0.3 [-2.8; 2.2]), whereas scoring was underestimated using both conventional T1 and T2 sequences (MD = -3.6 [-7.4; 0.1]) and MD = -4.6 [-8.2; -1.0], respectively). Intra- and interobserver reproducibility were very good for all imaging modalities (ICC = 0.86-0.98).

Conclusion: PETRA showed higher agreement in describing CF lung morphological changes than that of conventional sequences, whereas the Helbich-Bhalla scoring matched closely with that of CT.

Key points: • Spatial resolution of lung MRI is limited using non-ultra-short TE MRI technique • Ultra-short echo time (UTE) technique enables submillimeter 3D-MRI of airways • 3D-UTE MRI shows very good concordance with CT in assessing cystic fibrosis • Radiation-free 3D-UTE MRI enables the Helbich-Bhalla scoring without a need for contrast injection.

Keywords: CT; Cystic fibrosis; Lung; MRI; Ultra-short echo time.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Contrast Media / pharmacology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • ROC Curve
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Young Adult


  • Contrast Media