High resolution MRI for quantitative assessment of inferior alveolar nerve impairment in course of mandible fractures: an imaging feasibility study

Sci Rep. 2020 Jul 14;10(1):11566. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-68501-5.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocol for direct visualization of the inferior alveolar nerve in the setting of mandibular fractures. Fifteen patients suffering from unilateral mandible fractures involving the inferior alveolar nerve (15 affected IAN and 15 unaffected IAN from contralateral side) were examined on a 3 T scanner (Elition, Philips Healthcare, Best, the Netherlands) and compared with 15 healthy volunteers (30 IAN in total). The sequence protocol consisted of a 3D STIR, 3D DESS and 3D T1 FFE sequence. Apparent nerve-muscle contrast-to-noise ratio (aNMCNR), apparent signal-to-noise ratio (aSNR), nerve diameter and fracture dislocation were evaluated by two radiologists and correlated with nerve impairment. Furthermore, dislocation as depicted by MRI was compared to computed tomography (CT) images. Patients with clinically evident nerve impairment showed a significant increase of aNMCNR, aSNR and nerve diameter compared to healthy controls and to the contralateral side (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the T1 FFE sequence allowed dislocation depiction comparable to CT. This prospective study provides a rapid imaging protocol using the 3D STIR and 3D T1 FFE sequence that can directly assess both mandible fractures and IAN damage. In patients with hypoesthesia following mandibular fractures, increased aNMCNR, aSNR and nerve diameter on MRI imaging may help identify patients with a risk of prolonged or permanent hypoesthesia at an early time.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Mandible / diagnostic imaging*
  • Mandible / physiopathology
  • Mandibular Fractures / diagnostic imaging*
  • Mandibular Fractures / pathology
  • Mandibular Nerve / diagnostic imaging*
  • Mandibular Nerve / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Trigeminal Nerve Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Trigeminal Nerve Injuries / pathology
  • Young Adult