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High-resolution and functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brachial plexus using an isotropic 3D T2 STIR (Short Term Inversion Recovery) SPACE sequence and diffusion tensor imaging

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This technical note demonstrates the relevance of the isotropic 3D T2 turbo-spin-echo (TSE) sequence with short-term inversion recovery (STIR) and variable flip angle RF excitations (SPACE: Sampling Perfection with Application optimized Contrasts using different flip angle Evolutions) for high-resolution brachial plexus imaging. The sequence was used in 11 patients in the diagnosis of brachial plexus pathologies involving primary and secondary tumors, and in six volunteers. We show that 3D STIR imaging is not only a reliable alternative to 2D STIR imaging, but it also better evaluates the anatomy, nerve site compression and pathology of the plexus, especially to depict space-occupying tumors along its course. Finally, due to its appropriate contrast we describe how 3D-STIR can be used as a high-resolution mask to be fused with fraction of anisotropy (FA) maps calculated from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data of the plexus.

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The authors thank Stefan Huwer and Heiko Maïer from the Siemens Advanced Neuro MR Development Group in Erlangen for helpful discussions and collaboration on the Neuro3D software.

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Correspondence to M. Viallon.

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Viallon, M., Vargas, M.I., Jlassi, H. et al. High-resolution and functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brachial plexus using an isotropic 3D T2 STIR (Short Term Inversion Recovery) SPACE sequence and diffusion tensor imaging. Eur Radiol 18, 1018–1023 (2008).

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