OBJECTIVES: To quantitatively and qualitatively compare MRI of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) using an optimized high-resolution protocol at 3.0 T and a clinical standard protocol at 1.5 T.
METHODS: A phantom and 12 asymptomatic volunteers were MR imaged using a 2-channel surface coil (standard TMJ coil) at 1.5 and 3.0 T (Philips Achieva and Philips Ingenia, respectively; Philips Healthcare, Best, Netherlands). Imaging protocol consisted of coronal and oblique sagittal proton density-weighted turbo spin echo sequences. For quantitative evaluation, a spherical phantom was imaged. Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) maps were calculated on a voxelwise basis. For qualitative evaluation, all volunteers underwent MRI of the TMJ with the jaw in closed position. Two readers independently assessed visibility and delineation of anatomical structures of the TMJ and overall image quality on a 5-point Likert scale. Quantitative and qualitative measurements were compared between field strengths.
RESULTS: The quantitative analysis showed similar SNR for the high-resolution protocol at 3.0 T compared with the clinical protocol at 1.5 T. The qualitative analysis showed significantly better visibility and delineation of clinically relevant anatomical structures of the TMJ, including the TMJ disc and pterygoid muscle as well as better overall image quality at 3.0 T than at 1.5 T.
CONCLUSIONS: The presented results indicate that expected gains in SNR at 3.0 T can be used to increase the spatial resolution when imaging the TMJ, which translates into increased visibility and delineation of anatomical structures of the TMJ. Therefore, imaging at 3.0 T should be preferred over 1.5 T for imaging the TMJ.