The magic angle phenomenon in tendons: effect of varying the MR echo time

Br J Radiol. 1998 Jan;71(841):31-6. doi: 10.1259/bjr.71.841.9534696.


Increased signal intensity on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of tendons arising from the magic angle phenomenon is well recognized. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of varying the echo time (TE) upon tendon signal intensity, and to determine if a modified TE value produces acceptable T1 and proton density (PD) weighted images. Fresh bovine tendons were imaged in a 1.5 T MR scanner using spin echo (SE) T1 and PD weighted sequences and utilizing a number of different coils. For each set of sequences, the tendon was orientated at 55 degrees to the main magnetic field (B0) and imaged using constant TR and incremental TE values. Signal intensity was measured on images at each TR/TE value and compared with the signal intensities of tendons orientated at 0 degree to B0, obtained using minimum TE values. This experiment was repeated with a 1.0 T MR scanner and utilizing a spine coil. The Achilles tendon of a human volunteer was similarly imaged using a general purpose flex coil. For bovine and human tendons orientated at 55 degrees to B0, the signal intensities decreased exponentially with increasing TE. A critical TE value exceeding 37 ms, for each sequence, reduced the signal intensities to the levels obtained with the tendons orientated at 0 degree to B0, such that the magic angle phenomenon could be avoided. Although there was variability of the signal intensities with different coils, the critical TE value remained constant and the anatomical clarity was not degraded. The critical TE value was unaltered using two MR scanners of different field strengths.

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / anatomy & histology*
  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Artifacts*
  • Bone Marrow / anatomy & histology
  • Cattle
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Tarsus, Animal / anatomy & histology
  • Time Factors