Objective: Accurate assessment of knee articular cartilage is clinically important. Although 3.0 Tesla (T) MRI is reported to offer improved diagnostic performance, literature regarding the clinical impact of MRI field strength is lacking. The purpose of this study is to compare the diagnostic performance of clinical MRI reports for assessment of cartilage at 1.5 and 3.0 T in comparison to arthroscopy.
Materials and methods: This IRB-approved retrospective study consisted of 300 consecutive knees in 297 patients who had routine clinical MRI and arthroscopy. Descriptions of cartilage from MRI reports of 165 knees at 1.5 T and 135 at 3.0 T were compared with arthroscopy. The sensitivity, specificity, percent of articular surfaces graded concordantly, and percent of articular surfaces graded within one grade of the arthroscopic grading were calculated for each articular surface at 1.5 and 3.0 T. Agreement between MRI and arthroscopy was calculated with the weighted-kappa statistic. Significance testing was performed utilizing the z-test after bootstrapping to obtain the standard error.
Results and conclusions: The sensitivity, specificity, percent of articular surfaces graded concordantly, and percent of articular surfaces graded within one grade were 61.4%, 82.7%, 62.2%, and 77.5% at 1.5 T and 61.8%, 80.6%, 59.5%, and 75.6% at 3.0 T, respectively. The weighted kappa statistic was 0.56 at 1.5 T and 0.55 at 3.0 T. There was no statistically significant difference in any of these parameters between 1.5 and 3.0 T. Factors potentially contributing to the lack of diagnostic advantage of 3.0 T MRI are discussed.
Keywords: Articular cartilage; Clinical MRI reports; Diagnostic performance; Knee; MR field strength.