Objective: To assess the value of high resolution 2D fast spin echo T2-weighted sequence (HR 2D-FSE T2w) for evaluating the internal auditory meatus (IAM) in patients with asymetric or unilateral sensorineural hearing loss, vs. gadolinium-enhanced T1-weighted (T1w) sequence; to suggest a screening protocol to exclude the diagnosis of acoustic neuroma in a patient with isolated unilateral sensorineural hearing loss.
Materials and methods: One-hundred ten patients with suspected acoustic neuroma were evaluated with 1.5 T MRI system. The protocol included axial images focused on the IAM: HR 2D-FSE T2w images (4000/63, ETL = 16, 3-mm sections with 1.5 mm overlap, 18 FOV, 512 x 384 matrix) and gadolinium-enhanced T1w images (600/23, 3-mm sections, 18 FOV, 256 x 192 matrix). Two criteria for normality of the HR 2D-FSE T2w examination are defined: high homogeneous signal of the cerebellospinal fluid (CSF) and linear low signal of the nerves visible throughout the IAM.
Results: Overall results show no false-negative and six false-positive with HR 2D-FSE T2w sequences vs. gadolinium-enhanced T1w sequences. The sensitivity of HR 2D-FSE T2w sequences is 100%, specificity 93%, and negative preditive value 100%: normal images using HR 2D-FSE T2w sequence can rule out the diagnosis of acoustic neuroma.
Conclusion: Using this protocol we can exclude the diagnosis of acoustic neuroma in case of normal HR 2D-FSE images and no additional gadolinium-enhanced T1w sequence is necessary. This protocol might reduce examination time, must promote recourse to MRI in the event of clinical suspicion of acoustic neuroma, and also enables savings by proposing MRI examination as a first-line exam.