Basics of thoracic magnetic resonance imaging

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Please note. The new 2nd edition of the BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Thoracic Imaging is now available here.

The principal indication for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of thoracic disease in small animals is the evaluation of thoracic masses. MRI is of particular value for presurgical planning due to the excellent soft tissue contrast it provides and its ability to obtain images in any plane. This section looks at Indications; Restraint and patient preparation; Technique.

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4.1 Transverse T2-weighted image of a dog with a soft tissue sarcoma arising from the chest wall. A cod liver oil capsule (arrowed) has been placed over the area of swelling to aid localization. The tumour is the medium strong signal tissue adjacent to the oil capsule.
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4.2 Dorsal plane T2-weighted image of an 11-year-old cat with dyspnoea. There is a cranial mediastinal mass (arrowheads), pleural fluid and lung lobe torsion (left cranial lobe). Compare the swollen, hyperintense left cranial lung lobe (arrowed) with the normal right cranial lobe (*). MRI allowed more accurate assessment of the thoracic pathology than conventional radiology or ultrasonography.
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4.4 Dorsal plane T2-weighted image of a dog with a primary lung tumour of the right middle lobe (arrowed). This image was acquired using respiratory gating. Dorsal T2-weighted image of a dog with a chest wall tumour (arrowed). This image was acquired without respiratory gating. Note the reduction in motion artefacts and better image quality in (a) compared with (b). Scan times with gating were six times longer than without gating.
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4.5 Dorsal plane MR image of a Golden Retriever with pulmonary arterial thrombosis. Compare the large hypointense thrombus within the right pulmonary artery (arrowed) with the normal left pulmonary artery (arrowhead). This image was acquired using cardiac gating to minimize motion artefact.
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