Postoperative magnetic resonance imaging with titanium implants of the thoracic and lumbar spine

Neurosurgery. 1996 Apr;38(4):741-5.


Within recent years, the technologies of radiological imaging and spinal instrumentation have exponentially increased. New methods of preoperative imaging, that is, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography, have allowed for a better understanding of surgical pathology. Such an understanding is likely to lead to a more successful surgical experience, which certainly is the case with spine surgery with instrumentation. However, after implantation of most instrumentation, imaging is greatly impaired. Metallurgic advancements in titanium were sought to reduce postoperative imaging problems. The purpose of this study is to assess the presence and extent of artifacts seen on postoperative MRI scans in patients with titanium spinal implants. Six patients, four with degenerative spine disease and two with neoplasms, had thoracic and/or lumbar spinal fixation performed with titanium instrumentation. All patients underwent postoperative conventional MRI with the use of T1-weighted, T2-weighted, and gradient-echo sequences. The scans and individual sequences were then analyzed for image quality. A progressive and significant increase in imaging artifact related to the titanium spinal instrumentation was observed on the T1-weighted, T2-weighted, and gradient-echo sequences. Titanium spinal instruments do not allow optimal postoperative imaging on conventional MRI scanners.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Artifacts
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis*
  • Prostheses and Implants*
  • Spinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Spinal Diseases / surgery*
  • Spinal Fusion / instrumentation*
  • Spinal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Spinal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / pathology
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / surgery
  • Titanium*


  • Titanium