MR Utilization for Thoracic Imaging: A Case for the Expanding Role

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The application of magnetic resonance (MR) for thoracic imaging has greatly advanced over the past decade with advances in software and hardware allowing for more consistent and robust image quality. As a result of improving image quality, there has been an expansion in the applications of MR imaging of the chest. Thoracic MR is now used as both first-line imaging of suspected disease and second-line imaging procedure for improved characterization of known disease for preprocedural planning. Lack of radiation exposure and use of noncontrast and contrast-enhanced protocols with nonrenotoxic agents result in a very favorable safety profile for this modality.
Unique to MR is the ability to perform both physiologic and anatomic assessment of disease which improves the value of the technique. Current applications include vascular and soft tissue assessment. Imaging of the lymphatic system is an expanding use of MR at specialized centers. Current American College of Radiology guidelines include an appropriate score for the use of MR for chylothorax (6) and thoracic outlet (8), while indeterminate score (5) for pulmonary arterial imaging on last review. The increasing value of MR in providing diagnostic certainty and impact on clinical decision making to referring surgeons was recently reported by Ackman et al.1
Herein, this special edition of Topics in MR imaging, we update the current status of thoracic MR and highlight on expanding role of this technology in patient care.

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