1.5 versus 3 versus 7 Tesla in abdominal MRI : A comparative study

The aim of this study was to investigate and compare the feasibility as well as potential impact of altered magnetic field properties on image quality and potential artifacts of 1.5 Tesla, 3 Tesla and 7 Tesla non-enhanced abdominal MRI.

Materials and methods
Magnetic Resonance (MR) imaging of the upper abdomen was performed in 10 healthy volunteers on a 1.5 Tesla, a 3 Tesla and a 7 Tesla MR system. The study protocol comprised a (1) T1-weighted fat-saturated spoiled gradient-echo sequence (2D FLASH), (2) T1-weighted fat-saturated volumetric interpolated breath hold examination sequence (3D VIBE), (3) T1-weighted 2D in and opposed phase sequence, (4) True fast imaging with steady-state precession sequence (TrueFISP) and (5) T2-weighted turbo spin-echo (TSE) sequence. For comparison reasons field of view and acquisition times were kept comparable for each correlating sequence at all three field strengths, while trying to achieve the highest possible spatial resolution. Qualitative and quantitative analyses were tested for significant differences.

While 1.5 and 3 Tesla MRI revealed comparable results in all assessed features and sequences, 7 Tesla MRI yielded considerable differences in T1 and T2 weighted imaging. Benefits of 7 Tesla MRI encompassed an increased higher spatial resolution and a non-enhanced hyperintense vessel signal at 7 Tesla, potentially offering a more accurate diagnosis of abdominal parenchymatous and vasculature disease. 7 Tesla MRI was also shown to be more impaired by artifacts, including residual B1 inhomogeneities, susceptibility and chemical shift artifacts, resulting in reduced overall image quality and overall image impairment ratings. While 1.5 and 3 Tesla T2w imaging showed equivalently high image quality, 7 Tesla revealed strong impairments in its diagnostic value.

Our results demonstrate the feasibility and overall comparable imaging ability of T1-weighted 7 Tesla abdominal MRI towards 3 Tesla and 1.5 Tesla MRI, yielding a promising diagnostic potential for non-enhanced Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA). 1.5 Tesla and 3 Tesla offer comparably high-quality T2w imaging, showing superior diagnostic quality over 7 Tesla MRI.


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