Pulmonary Abnormalities in Immunocompromised Patients: Comparative Detection with Parallel Acquisition MR Imaging and Thin-Section Helical CT

Purpose: To compare parallel acquisition magnetic resonance (MR) imaging with thin-section helical computed tomography (CT) for depiction of pulmonary abnormalities suggestive of pneumonia in immunocompromised patients.

Materials and Methods: The institutional review board approved this study; prior consent was obtained. Thirty consecutive neutropenic patients (10 women, 20 men; mean age, 51 years ± 15 [standard deviation]; range, 25–75 years) with fever of unknown origin or clinical signs and symptoms of lung infection were examined with breath-hold single-shot half-Fourier turbo spin-echo MR imaging. To reduce image blurring and increase MR signal in the lungs, the echo time was shortened with generalized autocalibrating partially parallel acquisition (GRAPPA). Patients underwent thoracic CT (four detector rows and 1-mm section thickness [4 × 1 mm]; pitch, 6) as reference standard. Pulmonary abnormalities (ill-defined nodules, ground-glass opacity areas, and consolidation), their location and distribution, and lesion characteristics were analyzed at MR imaging by three readers, blinded to results of CT, in consensus. Frequencies were calculated for each feature; paired Wilcoxon rank sum test was used to examine whether differences between CT and MR imaging features were statistically significant (α < .05). Bonferroni adjustments were performed. Overall sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values were determined.

Results: Twenty-two patients had pulmonary abnormalities at CT. In 21 (95%) patients, pneumonia was correctly diagnosed with MR imaging. One false-negative finding occurred in a patient with ill-defined nodules smaller than 1 cm at CT. One false-positive finding with MR imaging was the result of blurring and respiratory artifacts (sensitivity, 95%; specificity, 88%; positive predictive value, 95%; negative predictive value, 88%). There was no significant difference in lesion location and distribution.

Conclusion: With parallel imaging (GRAPPA technique) and fast MR imaging, detection of pulmonary abnormalities is almost as good as with CT. MR imaging has a slight disadvantage in its lower capability to assist in characterization of specific internal features, such as cavitations.

© RSNA, 2006

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Article History

Published in print: 2006