MRI screening of the cerebellopontine angle and inner ear with fast spin-echo T2 technique.

B. Kovacsovics, L. Davidsson, H. Harder, B. Magnuson, T. Ledin


In patients with unilateral hearing loss and dizziness it is important to rule out a cerebellopontine angle process. This is often done by audiological and otoneurological investigations. However, in many cases we must rely on the imaging of the temporal bone and the cerebello-brainstem area. The paper has presented the three dimensional (3D) Fast Spin-Echo (FSE) T2 weighted, 0.7 mm thick MR images, which in addition to being quick, does not require the use of expensive contrast material. Between September 1996 and November 1997, 152 patients with unilateral hearing loss and/or balance disorders were investigated. In normal cases the 7th and 8th nerves could be followed accurately from the brainstem to the internal auditory meatus. The found tumors were hypointense compared to the cerebrospinal fluid and could be outlined with reasonable accuracy even without gadolinium contrast. The inner ear had high signal, like cerebrospinal fluid. The patency of the cochlea could be estimated accurately. Thus, 3D FSE T2 weighted images can reliably differentiate between patients with and without pathologies of the cerebellopontine angle. The use of gadolinium contrast could be avoided in most of the cases, but contrast is necessary for differential diagnostic purposes in patients with alterations in the cerebellopontine angle or in doubtful cases.

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