Current Technological Advances in Magnetic Resonance With Critical Impact for Clinical Diagnosis and Therapy

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The last 5 years of technological advances with major impact on clinical magnetic resonance (MR) are discussed, with greater emphasis on those that are most recent. These developments have already had a critical positive effect on clinical diagnosis and therapy and presage continued rapid improvements for the next 5 years. This review begins with a discussion of 2 topics that encompass the breadth of MR, in terms of anatomic applications, contrast media, and MR angiography. Subsequently, innovations are discussed by anatomic category, picking the areas with the greatest development, starting with the brain, moving forward to the liver and kidney, and concluding with the musculoskeletal system, breast, and prostate. Two final topics are then considered, which will likely, with time, become independent major fields in their own right, interventional MR and MR positron emission tomography (PET).The next decade will bring a new generation of MR contrast media, with research focused on substantial improvements (>100-fold) in relaxivity (contrast effect), thus providing greater efficacy, safety, and tissue targeting. Magnetic resonance angiography will see major advances because of the use of compressed sensing, in terms of spatial and temporal resolution, with movement away from nondynamic imaging. The breadth of available techniques and tissue contrast has greatly expanded in brain imaging, benefiting both from the introduction of new basic categories of imaging techniques, such as readout-segmented echo planar imaging and 3D fast spin echo imaging with variable flip angles, and from new refinements specific to anatomic areas, such as double inversion recovery and MP2RAGE. Liver imaging has benefited from the development of techniques to easily and rapidly assess lipid, and will see, overall, a marked improvement in the next 5 years from new techniques on the verge of clinical introduction, such as controlled aliasing in parallel imaging results in higher acceleration (CAIPIRINHA), with a substantial impact on both spatial resolution and scan time. Renal MR is benefiting from the application of blood-oxygen-level–dependent imaging, providing an assessment of renal function critical for the evaluation of chronic kidney disease. Techniques to reduce metal artifact are a major focus of development in musculoskeletal MR and are critical for the ever-increasing postsurgical and implant patient population, leading to markedly improved imaging of tissue adjacent to metal and diagnosis of infection, prosthesis loosening, and postsurgical complications such as fracture. In breast MR, scan techniques are continuing to evolve, and the impact of this examination on screening for and evaluation and treatment of breast carcinoma is substantial with continued expansion of indications. Prostate MR has benefited from multiparametric imaging and the application of diffusion-weighted imaging, the latter technique also now applied more generally in body imaging, with a substantial clinical impact, in particular for the detection of tumor lymph nodes. Interventional MR is still early in its development, although well established in many centers, possessing great potential in comparison with computed tomography (CT) because of superior soft-tissue contrast, real-time multiplanar imaging guidance and monitoring, the availability of temperature mapping, and the lack of ionizing radiation. And last but not least, MR-PET is in its infancy, with the first round of clinical units installed in the past 2 years and early clinical experience showing equivalence and, in some instances, superiority to PET-CT. As with the field of MR itself, which began when CT was already an established modality, MR-PET will likely, in the next decade, become an equivalent modality to PET-CT, if not begin to supplant the latter modality.

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