Magnetic resonance imaging of the chest

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Initial experience using magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the chest is reported for 10 normal controls and 90 patients with a variety of thoracic pathologic conditions. MR is capable of imaging thoracic disease in the mediastinum and hili with greater inherent contrast than computed tomography because of the low-intensity signal produced by rapidly flowing blood and the tracheobronchial tree versus the high-intensity signal produced by mediastinal fat on images with short TE/TR times. Mediastinal and hilar adenopathy is readily apparent in MR images in the transverse, sagittal, or coronal planes. The mediastinal vasculature especially lends itself to MR imaging. The pulmonary parenchyma is difficult to image because of the effects of respiratory motion and long scan times (5–20 minutes). Cardiac and respiratory gating improve image quality, but at the expense of lengthening scan times. The final role that MR will have in thoracic imaging remains to be determined.