Background: Compared to 1.5 T, 3 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) increases signal-to-noise ratio leading to improved image quality. However, its clinical relevance in clinically isolated syndrome suggestive of multiple sclerosis remains uncertain.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate how 3 T MRI affects the agreement between raters on lesion detection and diagnosis.
Methods: We selected 30 patients and 10 healthy controls from our ongoing prospective multicentre cohort. All subjects received baseline 1.5 and 3 T brain and spinal cord MRI. Patients also received follow-up brain MRI at 3-6 months. Four experienced neuroradiologists and four less-experienced raters scored the number of lesions per anatomical region and determined dissemination in space and time (McDonald 2010).
Results: In controls, the mean number of lesions per rater was 0.16 at 1.5 T and 0.38 at 3 T ( p = 0.005). For patients, this was 4.18 and 4.40, respectively ( p = 0.657). Inter-rater agreement on involvement per anatomical region and dissemination in space and time was moderate to good for both field strengths. 3 T slightly improved agreement between experienced raters, but slightly decreased agreement between less-experienced raters.
Conclusion: Overall, the interobserver agreement was moderate to good. 3 T appears to improve the reading for experienced readers, underlining the benefit of additional training.
Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; clinically isolated syndrome; interobserver variation; magnetic resonance imaging; multicentre study.