Objectives: Accurate radiological differentiation of parotid tumors remains challenging despite recent technical advances in quantitative medical imaging. Multifrequency magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) could provide additional information on viscoelastic properties of normal and abnormal biological tissues. This study investigates the feasibility of MRE of the parotid glands in healthy participants and provides first reference values.
Methods: 20 healthy participants underwent multifrequency MRE of both parotid glands at 3 Tesla. Shear waves at frequencies of 25, 30, 40, and 50 Hz were introduced into the participants' heads through the occiput using pressurized-air actuators. Shear wave speed (SWS) and loss angle of the shear modulus (φ) were reconstructed by tomoelastography post-processing as surrogate parameters for tissue stiffness and viscosity or fluidity. 10 participants underwent repeated MRE to determine test-retest reliability based on intraclass correlation coefficients.
Results: All MRE datasets acquired could be included in the analysis. Mean SWS was 0.97 ± 0.13 m/s, and mean φ was 0.59 ± 0.05 rad, each for both sides combined and without notable lateral difference (p = 0.88/0.87). Test-retest reliability was good for SWS (ICC = 0.84 for both sides/ICC = 0.77 for the right side/ICC = 0.79 for the left side) and good to excellent for φ(ICC = 0.94/0.86/0.90).
Conclusions: Multifrequency MRE of the parotid glands is feasible and reliable. This technique, therefore, is a promising method for investigating the viscoelastic properties of salivary gland tumors in future studies.
Keywords: Head and neck; Magnetic resonance elastography; Parotid glands; Tomoelastography; Viscoelasticity.