Multiple Sclerosis Community
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147426 tn?1317269232

3T MRI Clarification

Several times recently I have seen comments that indicate something I regret.  I have apparently given the impression that an MRI done on a machine with a strength lower than 3T is useless.  This is not true.  For the vast majority of people with MS, the diagnosis was made with a machine of 1.5T or lesser strength.  Normally a 1.5T is perfectly good and is always an okay place to start when the doctor suspects MS in someone.  I don't want anyone to feel that if they have gotten their first MRI on a lower strength machine, that they have wasted their time and money.

When the diagnosis is elusive and the clinical picture is very suggestive of MS, then I believe that a person should try to get the next films on the highest strength MRI available.  I always suggest it as one of the strategies to get out of Limbo.  The studies do show that a 3T shows more MS lesions than a 1.5T.  This is because the very small lesions may not show at all on a 1.5T, but may be very clear on the higher machine.

Going along with this is that lesions in the brainstem and spinal cord are more difficult to image.  The 3T is superior for this purpose.  So, if a person has symptoms that are very suggestive of spinal cord disease like:

Hyperactive reflexes
L'Hermittes sign
mild spasticity
urinary dysfunction

it would make sense to use the highest power machine possible for the spinal MRI.  If the first MRIs do not show anything, then it would make sense to do repeat MRI on a higher power machine.

But, if the person only has access to something lower than a 3T - and this is lots of people - then do NOT feel bad going ahead and getting them done.  Most people with MS will have lesions that show up - even on a 1T.

Again, it is just the people whose diagnosis has eluded the doctors who really should push for the higher power machines.  If all things are equal, then it also would make sense to get the first films on the highest power that is available, but if a machine is not available or if insurance won't pay, then get the imaging done where you can.

For the purposes of MS, though, the lowest power that is acceptable is a 1T.

Did I garble this or do you see what I am trying to say?


11 Responses
338416 tn?1420049302
Sounds good to me!  I was diagnosed with a 1.5 Tesla MRI.
486038 tn?1300066967
Quix, you did a great job of explaing this, much clearer than the mess I made of it the other day when I tried to explain it to my parents.... in my case it was better to try the higher MRI becuase the lower ones were showing up problems but Dr. K wanted a clearer picture, and the MRI at his facility is a 3T so, he was like "I want you to use this one, it's fancy and it works!" He made me laugh, but helped me understand what you and he were trying to say! ;)

Thanks for all the time and effort you put in here Quix, posts such as this give many of us clear valuable information that is often confusing elswhere!
620877 tn?1282767697
I thought you explained it very well - you do a very good job making some of the technical stuff easy to understand. Thank you!

198419 tn?1360245956
I'm not remembering the 1.5 disrespected here, but the .07 or something like that, yea, I remember us being all over it, especially when looking for MS. You've explained it very well Doc Q, always.

Do we know if the 3T is approved by the FDA yet? When I brought that up to the Chief Tech at the last place, he said it was not approved.  Knowing it is used regardless, just curious if that is the hold up for some facilities...juuuust a' wondering....

572651 tn?1531002957
I'm going to hold out for the 7T for my next MRI - I want to see the insides of everything too!  

Ok, I'm just kidding.  My MRI's were done locally on a 1.5  Tesla machine  - my lesions certainly were visible enough to help clinch my diagnosis.  My repeat MRI that is scheduled at OSU in December will be done on a 3T I believe.  It will be interesting to see how much more is going on with my brain.

It's often not practical or possible to demand being screened on something that isn't readily available or financially within reach.  Everyone has to keep it in perspective and remember that the MRI alone won't clinch a dx.

My two cents,
293157 tn?1285877039
that make sense to me... and will remeber that next time...thanks Quix

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