High-rez finger MRI may point way to burgeoning extremity uses for 7T

European researchers have demonstrated a dedicated setup for fast-acquisition, ultrahigh-resolution in vivo MRI of the finger, according to a study posted online in Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

Working with a German medical device manufacturer, Elmar Laistler, PhD, and colleagues at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria designed radiofrequency coil was for optimized signal homogeneity and sensitivity in the finger at 7T.

The team adapted imaging sequences using 3D MP-RAGE (magnetization-prepared rapid acquisition gradient echo) for high spatial resolution and good contrast of different tissues in the finger, while keeping acquisition time below 10 minutes, according to the study abstract.

After postprocessing to display finger structures in three dimensions, the data allowed clear identification of various anatomical features, including bone and bone marrow, tendons and annular ligaments, cartilage, arteries and veins, nerves and Pacinian corpuscles.

In their discussion, the authors state that their results show that high-resolution in vivo finger MRI is feasible—with excellent image quality and in patient-friendly procedure times—through a combination of dedicated radiofrequency hardware, ultrahigh magnetic field strength, well-adapted acquisition sequences and sophisticated image postprocessing.

“Visualizing datasets in 3D enables following individual structures in context to each other and might help to identify pathologies more easily,” Laistler et al. write. “Currently, the anatomy of the finger is too complex for automatic segmentation algorithms, requiring manual segmentation of large datasets.”

The authors suggest their technique could come to serve “as a tool for diagnosis and treatment monitoring in pathologies ranging from inflammatory or erosive joint diseases to injuries of tendons and ligaments to nervous or vascular disorders in the finger.”

Potential clinical applications include musculoskeletal investigations already established for larger extremities such as the knee or ankle, they add.

Journal publisher Wiley has posted the full, image-rich study for free.