Evaluation of Pediatric Thoracic Disorders: Comparison of Unenhanced Fast-Imaging-Sequence 1.5-T MRI and Contrast-Enhanced MDCT
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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy of thoracic MRI with fast imaging sequences without contrast administration at 1.5 T for evaluating thoracic abnormalities by comparing MRI findings with contrast-enhanced MDCT findings. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: A prospective study included consecutively registered pediatric patients who from December 2009 to January 2012 underwent thoracic MDCT followed within 2 days by MRI for evaluation of thoracic abnormalities. The final study sample consisted of 71 children (36 boys, 35 girls; mean age, 8.6 ± 4.5 years; range, 2 months-16 years) and 71 paired thoracic MRI and MDCT studies. Thoracic MRI was performed in the axial and coronal planes with the following fast imaging sequences: T1-weighted fast-field echo inversion prepulse, T2-weighted balanced fast-field echo multiple 2D, T1- and T2-weighted turbo spin-echo cardiac-triggering parallel imaging technique without cardiac monitoring, and STIR. Thoracic MDCT was performed with i.v. contrast administration. Two pediatric radiologists independently reviewed each MRI and MDCT study for abnormalities in the lung, large airways, and mediastinal, pleural, and musculoskeletal structures. The sensitivity, specificity, and overall accuracy of MRI were calculated. Interobserver agreement was measured with the kappa coefficient. RESULTS: With MDCT as the reference standard, 51 of 71 (72%) patients had abnormal findings on MDCT studies, including infections in 21 (42%) cases, neoplasms in 19 (37%) cases, interstitial lung disease in seven (14%) cases, pleural effusion in three (6%) cases, and congenital bronchogenic cyst in one (2%) case. The overall diagnostic accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of MRI for detecting thoracic abnormalities were 69 of 71 (97%), 49 of 51 (96%), and 20 of 20 (100%). Two undiagnosed findings with MRI that were detected with MDCT were mild bronchiectasis and small pulmonary nodule (3 mm). Almost perfect interobserver agreement was found between two reviewers with 70 of 71 agreements (κ = 0.97; 95% CI, 0.92-1.00; p < 0.001). CONCLUSION; MRI with fast imaging sequences without contrast administration is comparable to contrast-enhanced MDCT for detecting thoracic abnormalities in pediatric patients. Use of MRI with fast imaging sequences without contrast administration as a first-line cross-sectional imaging study in lieu of contrast-enhanced MDCT has the potential to benefit this patient population owing to reduced radiation exposure and i.v. contrast administration.
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