Optimal brain MRI protocol for new neurological complaint

William A. Mehan, R. Gilberto González, Bradley R. Buchbinder, John W. Chen, William A. Copen, Rajiv Gupta, Joshua A. Hirsch, George J. Hunter, Scott Hunter, Jason M. Johnson, Hillary R. Kelly, Mykol Larvie, Michael H. Lev, Stuart R. Pomerantz, Otto Rapalino, Sandra Rincon, Javier M. Romero, Pamela W. Schaefer, Vinil Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Background/Purpose: Patients with neurologic complaints are imaged with MRI protocols that may include many pulse sequences. It has not been documented which sequences are essential. We assessed the diagnostic accuracy of a limited number of sequences in patients with new neurologic complaints.

Methods: 996 consecutive brain MRI studies from patients with new neurological complaints were divided into 2 groups. In group 1, reviewers used a 3-sequence set that included sagittal T1-weighted, axial T2-weighted fluid-attenuated inversion recovery, and axial diffusion-weighted images. Subsequently, another group of studies were reviewed using axial susceptibility-weighted images in addition to the 3 sequences. The reference standard was the study's official report. Discrepancies between the limited sequence review and the reference standard including Level I findings (that may require immediate change in patient management) were identified.

Results: There were 84 major findings in 497 studies in group 1 with 21 not identified in the limited sequence evaluations: 12 enhancing lesions and 3 vascular abnormalities identified on MR angiography. The 3-sequence set did not reveal microhemorrhagic foci in 15 of 19 studies. There were 117 major findings in 499 studies in group 2 with 19 not identified on the 4-sequence set: 17 enhancing lesions and 2 vascular lesions identified on angiography. All 87 Level I findings were identified using limited sequence (56 acute infarcts, 16 hemorrhages, and 15 mass lesions).

Conclusion: A 4-pulse sequence brain MRI study is sufficient to evaluate patients with a new neurological complaint except when contrast or angiography is indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere110803
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 24 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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    Mehan, W. A., González, R. G., Buchbinder, B. R., Chen, J. W., Copen, W. A., Gupta, R., Hirsch, J. A., Hunter, G. J., Hunter, S., Johnson, J. M., Kelly, H. R., Larvie, M., Lev, M. H., Pomerantz, S. R., Rapalino, O., Rincon, S., Romero, J. M., Schaefer, P. W., & Shah, V. (2014). Optimal brain MRI protocol for new neurological complaint. PloS one, 9(10), [e110803]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0110803