Magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography of equine cheek teeth and adjacent structures: comparative study of image quality in horses in vivo, post-mortem and frozen-thawed
BACKGROUND:The use of cadavers for radiology research methodologies involving subjective image quality evaluation of anatomical criteria is well-documented. The purpose of this method comparison study was to evaluate the image quality of dental and adjacent structures in computed tomography (CT) and high-field (3 T) magnetic resonance (MR) images in cadaveric heads, based on an objective four-point rating scale. Whilst CT is a well-established technique, MR imaging (MRI) is rarely used for equine dental diagnostics. The use of a grading system in this study allowed an objective assessment of CT and MRI advantages in portraying equine cheek teeth. As imaging is commonly performed with cadaveric or frozen and thawed heads for dental research investigations, the second objective was to quantify the impact of the specimens' conditions (in vivo, post-mortem, frozen-thawed) on the image quality in CT and MRI. RESULTS:The CT and MR images of nine horses, focused on the maxillary premolar 08s and molar 09s, were acquired post-mortem (Group A). Three observers scored the dental and adjacent tissues. Results showed that MR sequences gave an excellent depiction of endo- and periodontal structures, whereas CT produced high-quality images of the hard tooth and bony tissues. Additional CT and MRI was performed in vivo (Group B) and frozen-thawed (Group C) in three of these nine horses to specify the condition of the best specimens for further research. Assessing the impact of the specimens' conditions on image quality, specific soft tissues of the maxillary 08s and 09s including adjacent structures (pulps, mucosa of the maxillary sinuses, periodontal ligament, soft tissue inside the infraorbital canal) were graded in group B and C and analysed for significant differences within CT and MR modalities in comparison to group A. Results showed that MRI scores in vivo were superior to the post-mortem and frozen-thawed condition. CONCLUSIONS:On comparing the imaging performance of CT and MRI, both techniques show a huge potential for application in equine dentistry. Further studies are needed to assess the clinical suitability of MRI. For further research investigations it must be considered, that the best MR image quality is provided in live horses.