Evaluation of T2-weighted versus short-tau inversion recovery sagittal sequences in the identification and localization of canine intervertebral disc extrusion with low-field magnetic resonance imaging

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Housley D, Caine A, Cherubini G, et al.

Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2017;58:433-443.

Sagittal T2-weighted sequences (T2-SAG) are the foundation of spinal protocols when screening for the presence of intervertebral disc extrusion. We often utilize sagittal short-tau inversion recovery sequences (STIR-SAG) as an adjunctive screening series, and experience suggests that this combined approach provides superior detection rates. We hypothesized that STIR-SAG would provide higher sensitivity than T2-SAG in the identification and localization of intervertebral disc extrusion. We further hypothesized that the parallel evaluation of paired T2-SAG and STIR-SAG series would provide a higher sensitivity than could be achieved with either independent sagittal series when viewed in isolation. This retrospective diagnostic accuracy study blindly reviewed T2-SAG and STIR-SAG sequences from dogs (n = 110) with surgically confirmed intervertebral disc extrusion. A consensus between two radiologists found no significant difference in sensitivity between T2-SAG and STIR-SAG during the identification of intervertebral disc extrusion (T2-SAG: 92.7%, STIR-SAG: 94.5%, P = 0.752). Nevertheless, STIR-SAG accurately identified intervertebral disc extrusion in 66.7% of cases where the evaluation of T2-SAG in isolation had provided a false negative diagnosis. Additionally, one radiologist found that the parallel evaluation of paired T2-SAG and STIR-SAG series provided a significantly higher sensitivity than T2-SAG in isolation, during the identification of intervertebral disc extrusion (T2-SAG: 78.2%, paired T2-SAG, and STIR-SAG: 90.9%, P = 0.017). A similar nonsignificant trend was observed when the consensus of both radiologists was taken into consideration (T2-SAG: 92.7%, paired T2-SAG, and STIR-SAG = 97.3%, P = 0.392). We therefore conclude that STIR-SAG is capable of identifying intervertebral disc extrusion that is inconspicuous in T2-SAG, and that STIR-SAG should be considered a useful adjunctive sequence during preliminary sagittal screening for intervertebral disc extrusion in low-field magnetic resonance.