Diagnostic Quality of 3D T2-SPACE Compared with T2-FSE in the Evaluation of Cervical Spine MRI Anatomy

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2017 Apr;38(4):846-850. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A5080. Epub 2017 Feb 2.


Background and purpose: Spinal anatomy has been variably investigated using 3D MRI. We aimed to compare the diagnostic quality of T2 sampling perfection with application-optimized contrasts by using flip angle evolution (SPACE) with T2-FSE sequences for visualization of cervical spine anatomy. We predicted that T2-SPACE will be equivalent or superior to T2-FSE for visibility of anatomic structures.

Materials and methods: Adult patients undergoing cervical spine MR imaging with both T2-SPACE and T2-FSE sequences for radiculopathy or myelopathy between September 2014 and February 2015 were included. Two blinded subspecialty-trained radiologists independently assessed the visibility of 12 anatomic structures by using a 5-point scale and assessed CSF pulsation artifact by using a 4-point scale. Sagittal images and 6 axial levels from C2-T1 on T2-FSE were reviewed; 2 weeks later and after randomization, T2-SPACE was evaluated. Diagnostic quality for each structure and CSF pulsation artifact visibility on both sequences were compared by using a paired t test. Interobserver agreement was calculated (κ).

Results: Forty-five patients were included (mean age, 57 years; 40% male). The average visibility scores for intervertebral disc signal, neural foramina, ligamentum flavum, ventral rootlets, and dorsal rootlets were higher for T2-SPACE compared with T2-FSE for both reviewers (P < .001). Average scores for remaining structures were either not statistically different or the superiority of one sequence was discordant between reviewers. T2-SPACE showed less degree of CSF flow artifact (P < .001). Interobserver variability ranged between -0.02-0.20 for T2-SPACE and -0.02-0.30 for T2-FSE (slight to fair agreement).

Conclusions: T2-SPACE may be equivalent or superior to T2-FSE for the evaluation of cervical spine anatomic structures, and T2-SPACE shows a lower degree of CSF pulsation artifact.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Artifacts
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc / diagnostic imaging
  • Ligaments / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Spine / diagnostic imaging*
  • Young Adult