Original Investigation|Articles in Press

Image Quality of Lumbar Spine Imaging at 0.55T Low-Field MRI is Comparable to Conventional 1.5T MRI – Initial Observations in Healthy Volunteers

Published:February 23, 2023DOI:

      Rationale and Objectives

      To assess the potential of 0.55T low-field MRI system in lumbar spine imaging with and without the use of additional advanced postprocessing techniques.

      Materials and Methods

      The lumbar spine of 14 volunteers (32.9 ± 3.6 years) was imaged both at 0.55T and 1.5T using sequences from clinical routine. On the 0.55T scanner system, additional sequences with simultaneous multi-slice acquisition and artificial intelligence-based postprocessing techniques were acquired. Image quality of all 28 examinations was assessed by three musculoskeletal radiologists with respect to signal/contrast, resolution, and assessability of the spinal canal and neuroforamina using a 5-point Likert scale (1 = non-diagnostic to 5 = perfect quality). Interrater agreement was evaluated with the Intraclass Correlation Coefficient and the Mann-Whitney U test (significance level: p < 0.05).


      Image quality at 0.55T was rated lower on the 5-point Likert scale compared to 1.5T regarding signal/contrast (mean: 4.16 ± 0.29 vs. 4.54 ± 0.29; p < 0.001), resolution (4.07 ± 0.31 vs. 4.49 ± 0.30; p < 0.001), assessability of the spinal canal (4.28 ± 0.13 vs. 4.73 ± 0.26; p < 0.001) and the neuroforamina (4.14 ± 0.28 vs. 4.70 ± 0.27; p < 0.001). Image quality for the AI-processed sagittal T1 TSE and T2 TSE at 0.55T was also rated slightly lower, but still good to perfect with a concomitant reduction in measurement time. Interrater agreement was good to excellent (range: 0.60–0.91).


      While lumbar spine image quality at 0.55T is perceived inferior to imaging at 1.5T by musculoskeletal radiologists, good overall examination quality was observed with high interrater agreement. Advanced postprocessing techniques may accelerate intrinsically longer acquisition times at 0.55T.

      Key Words

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