Canadian Society of Thoracic Radiology/Canadian Association of Radiologists Clinical Practice Guidance for Non-Vascular Thoracic MRI

Can Assoc Radiol J. 2021 Nov;72(4):831-845. doi: 10.1177/0846537121998961. Epub 2021 Mar 29.


Historically thoracic MRI has been limited by the lower proton density of lung parenchyma, cardiac and respiratory motion artifacts and long acquisition times. Recent technological advancements in MR hardware systems and improvement in MR pulse sequences have helped overcome these limitations and expand clinical opportunities for non-vascular thoracic MRI. Non-vascular thoracic MRI has been established as a problem-solving imaging modality for characterization of thymic, mediastinal, pleural chest wall and superior sulcus tumors and for detection of endometriosis. It is increasingly recognized as a powerful imaging tool for detection and characterization of lung nodules and for assessment of lung cancer staging. The lack of ionizing radiation makes thoracic MRI an invaluable imaging modality for young patients, pregnancy and for frequent serial follow-up imaging. Lack of familiarity and exposure to non-vascular thoracic MRI and lack of consistency in existing MRI protocols have called for clinical practice guidance. The purpose of this guide, which was developed by the Canadian Society of Thoracic Radiology and endorsed by the Canadian Association of Radiologists, is to familiarize radiologists, other interested clinicians and MR technologists with common and less common clinical indications for non-vascular thoracic MRI, discuss the fundamental imaging findings and focus on basic and more advanced MRI sequences tailored to specific clinical questions.

Keywords: lung cancer; mediastinal mass; non-vascular; thoracic MRI; thymus.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Radiologists
  • Societies, Medical
  • Thoracic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thorax / diagnostic imaging