Background: To evaluate feasibility and diagnostic performance of clinical 7-T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the shoulder.
Methods: Eight patients with suspected lesions of the rotator cuff underwent 7-T MRI before arthroscopy. Image quality was scored for artifacts, B1+ inhomogeneities, and assessability of anatomical structures. A structured radiological report was compared to arthroscopy. In four patients, a visual comparison with pre-existing 1.5-T examinations was performed.
Results: Regarding image quality, the majority of the sequences reached values above the middle of each scoring scale. Fat-saturated proton density sequences showed least artifacts and best structure assessability. The most homogenous B1+ field was reached with gradient-echo sequences. Arthroscopy did not confirm tendinopathy/partial tear of supraspinatus in 5/8 patients, of subscapularis in 5/6, and of infraspinatus in one patient; only a partial lesion of the subscapularis tendon was missed. Pathologic findings of long bicipital tendon, acromioclavicular joint, glenohumeral cartilage, labrum, and subacromial subdeltoideal bursa were mainly confirmed; exceptions were one lesion of the long bicipital tendon, one subacromial bursitis, and one superior glenoid labrum anterior-to-posterior lesion, missed on 7-T MRI. Evaluating all structures together, sensitivity was 86%, and specificity 74%. A better contrast and higher image resolution was noted in comparison to previous 1.5-T examinations.
Conclusions: 7-T MRI of the shoulder with diagnostic image quality is feasible. Overrating of tendon signal alterations was the main limitation. Although the diagnostic performance did not reach the current results of 3-T MRI, our study marks the way to implement clinical 7-T MRI of the shoulder.
Keywords: 7 Tesla; Arthroscopy; Magnetic resonance imaging; Rotator cuff; Shoulder.