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MRI screening for acoustic neuroma: a comparison of fast spin echo and contrast enhanced imaging in 1233 patients

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Amanda Potterton, Dr Ivan Zammit-Maempel, Dr Christine Baudouin


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Gadolinium enhanced MRI is the gold standard investigation for the detection of acoustic neuroma. Non-contrast MRI sequences have been suggested as an alternative for screening examinations. In order to determine the utility of fast spin echo imaging, both gadolinium enhanced T-1 weighted images and fast spin echo T-2 weighted images were acquired in 1233 consecutive patients referred for exclusion of acoustic neuroma. Two radiologists independently recorded their findings. Fast spin echo T-2 weighted images were evaluated with respect to the visibility of nerves within the internal auditory canals and allocated a confidence score for the presence or absence of acoustic neuroma. 33 acoustic neuromas were identified. Only 56% were confidently identified on fast spin echo T-2 weighted images alone; gadolinium enhanced T-1 weighted images were required to confirm the diagnosis in 44% of the cases, including 9 of the 10 intracanalicular tumours. However, when identification of two normal intracanalicular nerves is employed as the criterion of normality, the single fast spin echo T-2 weighted sequence excluded acoustic neuroma in 59% of this screened population. It is concluded that an imaging strategy intended to identify small intracanalicular acoustic neuromas cannot rely on fast spill echo T-2 weighted imaging alone. Gadolinium enhanced T-1 weighted imaging could be restricted to patients where fast spin echo images do not exclude acoustic neuroma but this strategy requires continuous supervision by an experienced radiologist. In most practices the screening examination should continue to include a gadolinium enhanced sequence in order to optimize the detection of small acoustic neuromas.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Zealley IA, Cooper RC, Clifford KMA, Campbell RSD, Potterton AJ, Zammit-Maempel I, Baudouin CJ, Coulthard A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Radiology

Year: 2000

Volume: 73

Issue: 867

Pages: 242-247

ISSN (print): 0007-1285

ISSN (electronic): 1748-880X

Publisher: The British Institute of Radiology