European Radiology

, Volume 22, Issue 11, pp 2295–2303

A systematic review of the utility of 1.5 versus 3 Tesla magnetic resonance brain imaging in clinical practice and research

  • Joanna M. Wardlaw
  • Will Brindle
  • Ana M. Casado
  • Kirsten Shuler
  • Moira Henderson
  • Brenda Thomas
  • Jennifer Macfarlane
  • Susana Muñoz Maniega
  • Katherine Lymer
  • Zoe Morris
  • Cyril Pernet
  • William Nailon
  • Trevor Ahearn
  • Abdul Nashirudeen Mumuni
  • Carlos Mugruza
  • John McLean
  • Goultchira Chakirova
  • Yuehui (Terry) Tao
  • Johanna Simpson
  • Andrew C. Stanfield
  • Harriet Johnston
  • Jehill Parikh
  • Natalie A. Royle
  • Janet De Wilde
  • Mark E. Bastin
  • Nick Weir
  • Andrew Farrall
  • Maria C. Valdes Hernandez
  • The SINAPSE Collaborative Group
Magnetic Resonance

DOI: 10.1007/s00330-012-2500-8

Cite this article as:
Wardlaw, J.M., Brindle, W., Casado, A.M. et al. Eur Radiol (2012) 22: 2295. doi:10.1007/s00330-012-2500-8

Abstract

Objective

MRI at 3 T is said to be more accurate than 1.5 T MR, but costs and other practical differences mean that it is unclear which to use.

Methods

We systematically reviewed studies comparing diagnostic accuracy at 3 T with 1.5 T. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and other sources from 1 January 2000 to 22 October 2010 for studies comparing diagnostic accuracy at 1.5 and 3 T in human neuroimaging. We extracted data on methodology, quality criteria, technical factors, subjects, signal-to-noise, diagnostic accuracy and errors according to QUADAS and STARD criteria.

Results

Amongst 150 studies (4,500 subjects), most were tiny, compared old 1.5 T with new 3 T technology, and only 22 (15 %) described diagnostic accuracy. The 3 T images were often described as “crisper”, but we found little evidence of improved diagnosis. Improvements were limited to research applications [functional MRI (fMRI), spectroscopy, automated lesion detection]. Theoretical doubling of the signal-to-noise ratio was not confirmed, mostly being 25 %. Artefacts were worse and acquisitions took slightly longer at 3 T.

Conclusion

Objective evidence to guide MRI purchasing decisions and routine diagnostic use is lacking. Rigorous evaluation accuracy and practicalities of diagnostic imaging technologies should be the routine, as for pharmacological interventions, to improve effectiveness of healthcare.

Key Points

Higher field strength MRI may improve image quality and diagnostic accuracy.

There are few direct comparisons of 1.5 and 3 T MRI.

Theoretical doubling of the signal-to-noise ratio in practice was only 25 %.

Objective evidence of improved routine clinical diagnosis is lacking.

Other aspects of technology improved images more than field strength.

Keywords

Magnetic resonance imagingSensitivity and specificityBrainNeuroimagingSystematic review

Supplementary material

330_2012_2500_MOESM1_ESM.doc (664 kb)
ESM 1(DOC 658 kb)

Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna M. Wardlaw
    • 1
    • 2
    • 14
  • Will Brindle
    • 2
  • Ana M. Casado
    • 2
  • Kirsten Shuler
    • 1
    • 2
  • Moira Henderson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Brenda Thomas
    • 2
  • Jennifer Macfarlane
    • 1
    • 3
  • Susana Muñoz Maniega
    • 1
    • 2
  • Katherine Lymer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zoe Morris
    • 2
  • Cyril Pernet
    • 1
    • 2
  • William Nailon
    • 4
  • Trevor Ahearn
    • 1
    • 5
  • Abdul Nashirudeen Mumuni
    • 1
    • 6
  • Carlos Mugruza
    • 1
    • 7
  • John McLean
    • 1
    • 8
  • Goultchira Chakirova
    • 1
    • 9
  • Yuehui (Terry) Tao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Johanna Simpson
    • 1
    • 10
  • Andrew C. Stanfield
    • 9
  • Harriet Johnston
    • 1
    • 11
  • Jehill Parikh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Natalie A. Royle
    • 1
    • 2
  • Janet De Wilde
    • 1
    • 2
    • 12
  • Mark E. Bastin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nick Weir
    • 13
  • Andrew Farrall
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maria C. Valdes Hernandez
    • 1
    • 2
  • The SINAPSE Collaborative Group
  1. 1.Scottish Imaging Network, A Platform for Scientific Excellence (SINAPSE) CollaborationEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Division of Clinical NeurosciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  3. 3.University of DundeeDundeeUK
  4. 4.Edinburgh Cancer CentreUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  5. 5.Institute of Medical SciencesUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK
  6. 6.Department of Clinical PhysicsUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  7. 7.School of PsychologyUniversity of DundeeDundeeUK
  8. 8.Institute of Neurological SciencesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  9. 9.Division of PsychiatryUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  10. 10.Department of PsychologyUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK
  11. 11.Department of PsychologyUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK
  12. 12.The Higher Education AcademyYorkUK
  13. 13.Department of Medical PhysicsRoyal Infirmary of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  14. 14.SINAPSE Collaboration, Brain Research Imaging Centre, Division of Clinical NeurosciencesWestern General HospitalEdinburghUK