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J AAPOS. 2011 Feb;15(1):17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2010.12.006.

T2-weighted fast spin-echo magnetic resonance imaging of extraocular muscles.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7002, USA.



Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can provide unique information about extraocular muscle (EOM) structure and function. Previous high-resolution motility imaging studies used T1 weighting, which provides intrinsic contrast of dark-appearing EOMs against bright orbital fat and is suitable for intravenous contrast. However, time-consuming T1 sequences are subject to motion artifacts. We evaluated an alternative T2-weighted fast spin-echo pulse sequence that emphasizes tissue-free fluid.


We prospectively used high-resolution, surface coil technique for orbital MRI at 1.5T in 21 orthotropic and 113 living strabismic subjects and 2 monkey cadavers by using T2 fast spin-echo (T2FSE) weighting (long repetition time, short echo time). T2FSE was compared with T1 in 17 subjects, and with T1 in 506 different living subjects, and 12 cadavers.


For 2 mm thick coronal MRIs of 312 μm resolution spanning the entire orbit, T1 acquisition required 218 seconds, whereas T2FSE required 150 seconds (31% faster). T2-defined the globe border better, and provided intrinsic contrast between EOMs and their pulleys. Although both T1 and T2 demonstrated motor nerves to EOMs in living subjects, only T1 was satisfactory with injected contrast and in cadavers.


For motility imaging, T2FSE is faster than T1 MRI and demonstrates superior tissue details of EOMs and other orbital tissues. T2FSE of the orbits can be performed by the use of widely available standard equipment. We suggest that T2FSE be the preferred method for clinical imaging of EOM structure, function, and innervation, although T1 may be more appropriate when intravenous contrast must be used.

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