Objective: To compare magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, computed tomography (CT), and radiography in the detection of sacroiliitis accompanying ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
Design and subjects: Nine volunteers and 24 patients were recruited. Radiography, CT, and MR imaging were completed within a 1-week period in 24 patients with AS. In precontrast MR examination, spin-echo T1, fast spin-echo T2, and gradient echo with rephasing T2* images were obtained without fat saturation using a 0.3-T imager for all volunteers and patients. Postcontrast MR examination was performed using the same precontrast SE T1 sequence for patients with AS.
Results and conclusions: MR imaging directly showed the normal cartilage in all 16 sacroiliac joints of the 8 volunteers. In the 24 patients with AS, cartilage abnormalities were observed in 42 sacroiliac joints. More diagnoses of sacroiliitis were made using MR and CT imaging than using radiography (P < 0.001). Therefore, low-field-strength MR can be useful in detecting early sacroiliitis in patients with AS. MR imaging was able to reveal early cartilage changes and bone marrow edema, which could not be found by either CT or radiography.