• MRI;
  • Spine;
  • Myelography;
  • nerves


Wideband steady-state free precession (WB-SSFP) is a modification of balanced steady-state free precession utilizing alternating repetition times to reduce susceptibility-induced balanced steady-state free precession limitations, allowing its use for high-resolution myelographic-contrast spinal imaging. Intertissue contrast and spatial resolution of complete-spine-coverage 3D WB-SSFP were compared with those of 2D T2-weighted fast spin echo, currently the standard for spine T2-imaging. Six normal subjects were imaged at 1.5 and 3 T. The signal-to-noise ratio efficiency (SNR per unit-time and unit-volume) of several tissues was measured, along with four intertissue contrast-to-noise ratios; nerve-ganglia:fat, intradural-nerves:cerebrospinal fluid, nerve-ganglia:muscle, and muscle:fat. Patients with degenerative and traumatic spine disorders were imaged at both MRI fields to demonstrate WB-SSFP clinical advantages and disadvantages. At 3 T, WB-SSFP provided spinal contrast-to-noise ratios 3.7–5.2 times that of fast spin echo. At 1.5 T, WB-SSFP contrast-to-noise ratio was 3–3.5 times that of fast spin echo, excluding a 1.7 ratio for intradural-nerves:cerebrospinal fluid. WB-SSFP signal-to-noise ratio efficiency was also higher. Three-dimensional WB-SSFP disadvantages relative to 2D fast spin echo are reduced edema hyperintensity, reduced muscle signal, and higher motion sensitivity. WB-SSFP's high resolution and contrast-to-noise ratio improved visualization of intradural nerve bundles, foraminal nerve roots, and extradural nerve bundles, improving detection of nerve compression in radiculopathy and spinal-stenosis. WB-SSFP's high resolution permitted reformatting into orthogonal planes, providing distinct advantages in gauging fine spine pathology. Magn Reson Med, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.