OBJECTIVE. Gallstones are usually recognized on MRI as filling defects of hypointensity. However, they sometimes may appear as hyperintensities on T1-weighted imaging. This study investigated how gallstones appear on MRI and how their appearance influences the detection of gallstones. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Gallstones from 24 patients who had MRI performed before the removal of the gallstones were collected for study. The gallstones were classified either as cholesterol gallstone (n = 4) or as pigment gallstone (n = 20) according to their gross appearance and based on analysis by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. MRI included three sequences: single-shot fast spin-echo T2-weighted imaging, 3D fast spoiled gradient-echo T1-weighted imaging, and in-phase fast spoiled gradient-echo T1-weighted imaging. The signal intensity and the detection rate of gallstones on MRI were further correlated with the character of the gallstones. RESULTS. On T1-weighted 3D fast spoiled gradient-echo images, most of the pigment gallstones (18/20) were hyperintense and all the cholesterol gallstones (4/4) were hypointense. The mean ratio of the signal intensity of gallstone to bile was (± standard deviation) 3. 36 ± 1.88 for pigment gallstone and 0.24 ± 0.10 for cholesterol gallstone on the 3D fast spoiled gradient-echo sequence (p < 0.001). Combining the 3D fast spoiled gradient-echo and single-shot fast spin-echo sequences achieved the highest gallstone detection rate (96.4%). CONCLUSION. Based on the differences of signal intensity of gallstones, the 3D fast spoiled gradient-echo T1-weighted imaging was able to diagnose the composition of gallstones. Adding the 3D fast spoiled gradient-echo imaging to the single-shot fast spin-echo T2-weighted sequence can further improve the detection rate of gallstones.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging