What's New for Clinical Whole-body MRI (WB-MRI) in the 21st Century

Br J Radiol. 2020 Nov 1;93(1115):20200562. doi: 10.1259/bjr.20200562. Epub 2020 Sep 9.


Whole-body MRI (WB-MRI) has evolved since its first introduction in the 1970s as an imaging technique to detect and survey disease across multiple sites and organ systems in the body. The development of diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) has added a new dimension to the implementation of WB-MRI on modern scanners, offering excellent lesion-to-background contrast, while achieving acceptable spatial resolution to detect focal lesions 5 to 10 mm in size. MRI hardware and software advances have reduced acquisition times, with studies taking 40-50 min to complete.The rising awareness of medical radiation exposure coupled with the advantages of MRI has resulted in increased utilization of WB-MRI in oncology, paediatrics, rheumatological and musculoskeletal conditions and more recently in population screening. There is recognition that WB-MRI can be used to track disease evolution and monitor response heterogeneity in patients with cancer. There are also opportunities to combine WB-MRI with molecular imaging on PET-MRI systems to harness the strengths of hybrid imaging. The advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning will shorten image acquisition times and image analyses, making the technique more competitive against other imaging technologies.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends
  • Male
  • Multimodal Imaging / methods
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Radiation Exposure / prevention & control
  • Time Factors
  • Whole Body Imaging / methods*