Dual gradient-echo in-phase and opposed-phase hepatic MR imaging: a useful tool for evaluating more than fatty infiltration or fatty sparing.
A T1-weighted gradient-echo in-phase and opposed-phase sequence has become a routine part of every hepatic magnetic resonance (MR) imaging protocol. Although this sequence is primarily used to identify common pathologic conditions, such as diffuse or focal steatosis and focal fatty sparing, it is also helpful in detection of pathologic entities associated with T2* effects owing to the double-echo approach. Thus, pathologic conditions such as hemochromatosis or hemosiderosis can be identified and characterized with a high level of confidence. In cases of iron storage disease, the hepatic parenchymal signal intensity decreases on the image with the longer echo time due to the continued decay of the transverse magnetization. In addition, susceptibility artifacts can be easily detected and characterized with in-phase and opposed-phase MR imaging. Metallic objects demonstrate a larger susceptibility artifact on the image with the second or longer echo time, which is usually the in-phase image. Finally, intrahepatic pneumobilia can be identified with the T1-weighted gradient-echo in-phase and opposed-phase sequence because gas also causes a susceptibility artifact, which is more pronounced on the image with the longer echo time. A complete understanding of both the chemical shift cancellation artifact and the T2* effects of the in-phase and opposed-phase sequence is important for correct interpretation of hepatic MR images.
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