High-resolution T2-weighted MR imaging of the inner ear using a long echo-train-length 3D fast spin-echo sequence

Eur Radiol. 1996;6(3):369-74. doi: 10.1007/BF00180615.


The purpose of this study was to assess the value of a long echo-train-length 3D fast spin-echo (3D-FSE) sequence in visualizing the inner ear structures. Ten normal ears and 50 patient ears were imaged on a 1.5T MR unit using a head coil. Axial high-resolution T2-weighted images of the inner ear and the internal auditory canal (IAC) were obtained in 15 min. In normal ears the reliability of the visualization for the inner ear structures was evaluated on original images and the targeted maximum intensity projection (MIP) images of the labyrinth. In ten normal ears, 3D surface display (3D) images were also created and compared with MIP images. On the original images the cochlear aqueduct, the vessels in the vicinity of the IAC, and more than three branches of the cranial nerves were visualized in the IAC in all the ears. The visibility of the endolympathic duct was 80%. On the MIP images the visibility of the three semicircular canals, anterior and posterior ampulla, and of more than two turns of the cochlea was 100%. The MIP images and 3D images were almost comparable. The visibility of the endolymphatic duct was 80% in normal ears and 0% in the affected ears of the patients with Meniere's disease (p < 0.01). In one patient ear a small intracanalicular tumor was depicted clearly. In conclusion, the long echo train length T2-weighted 3D-FSE sequence enables the detailed visualization of the tiny structures of the inner ear and the IAC within a clinically acceptable scan time. Furthermore, obtaining a high contrast between the soft/bony tissue and the cerebrospinal/endolymph/ perilymph fluid would be of significant value in the diagnosis of the pathologic conditions around the labyrinth and the IAC.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cochlear Aqueduct / anatomy & histology
  • Cochlear Aqueduct / pathology
  • Ear, Inner / anatomy & histology*
  • Ear, Inner / pathology
  • Endolymphatic Duct / anatomy & histology
  • Endolymphatic Duct / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Meniere Disease / diagnosis
  • Semicircular Canals / anatomy & histology
  • Semicircular Canals / pathology