Low-field musculoskeletal MRI

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Since it was first introduced in the field of medical imaging in the early 1980s, MRI has become essential for the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. Most imaging in the United States is performed on high-field (>1.0T), whole-body scanners. However, for reasons discussed below, imaging at low (<0.5T) and medium (0.5–1.0T) field strengths using small, low-cost, easily installed scanners in imaging centers and physicians' offices is gaining increasing popularity. Such scanners can be very useful for imaging the upper and lower extremities, from the shoulder to the fingers and the hips to the toes. In this review we provide an overview of the different available extremity scanners and their advantages and disadvantages, briefly review the literature regarding their use, and discuss our experience in using low-field extremity scanners to evaluate joints.

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