Objective: Our goal was to evaluate the image quality, contrast characteristics, and possible clinical utility of STIR images obtained using a fast SE (FSE) technique.
Materials and methods: The signal and contrast characteristics of FSE STIR images were evaluated using a lipid/water phantom and normal volunteers. Based upon these results, optimal FSE STIR imaging parameters were chosen. Conventional STIR and FSE STIR images were then obtained (while maintaining an equal number of section locations between the two sequences) in a series of 14 patients with known musculoskeletal abnormalities. These images were compared side by side by two experienced MR radiologists for image quality and lesion detection.
Results: There were no statistically significant differences between the FSE STIR images and conventional STIR images in lesion detection, image quality, motion artifact, or final diagnosis.
Conclusion: STIR imaging provides optimal contrast for detection of many pathologic abnormalities. This is especially true for musculoskeletal tumors and infection. The long imaging time and reduced number of sections obtainable with conventional SE (CSE) STIR sequences limit their routine use. Our results show that FSE STIR images of the musculoskeletal system can be obtained up to seven times more rapidly than CSE STIR images without compromising lesion detection or image quality.