Polymer-based textile meshes for abdominal hernia treatment are invisible by conventional imaging methods, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Integration of iron particles in the mesh base material allows MRI visualization of meshes. Positive-contrast susceptibility imaging (PCSI) was implemented to separate susceptibility-induced voids from proton-deficient voids. The purpose of this study was to compare PCSI with conventional gradient echo and turbo spin echo (TSE) sequences for the in vivo assessment of superparamagnetic iron oxide particle–loaded surgical meshes in an animal model.
Methods and Materials
Iron-loaded polymer meshes were implanted into the abdominal wall of 10 rabbits. At days 1, 30, and 90 after surgery, conventional gradient echo, TSE, and PCSI were performed at 1.5 T in the sagittal and axial planes. Images were scored by 2 radiologists with respect to mesh visibility, delineation of the surrounding tissue, differentiation from other structures, and overall diagnostic use, on a 4-point scale ranging from 1 (insufficient) to 4 (excellent). The results were compared using Wilcoxon signed-rank tests. The mesh shape, possible deformation or fracture, and possible mesh migration were evaluated on the different pulse sequences and compared with the results at surgery and autopsy.
The iron-loaded meshes appeared as hypointense signal voids on gradient echo sequences, as a hyperintense line on PCSI, and as a very thin dark line on TSE images. In all animals, a precise depiction of the mesh location and its spatial configuration and integrity was possible by MRI and confirmed by surgical and autopsy results. In all 4 categories and at all 3 time points of imaging, image quality scores were significantly higher for gradient echo imaging (range, 3.60–3.80) compared with PCSI (range, 3.12–3.42) and TSE (range, 1.64–1.89). At day 90, the image quality ratings of gradient echo and PCSI were comparable. In 2 cases, the complete delineation of mesh borders was impossible because of signal voids of adjacent anatomical structures, whereas PCSI helped achieve this differentiation.
In this rabbit model of iron-loaded implanted abdominal meshes, standard gradient echo imaging was best suitable to assess implant location, integrity, and configuration. In 2 of 10 animals, PCSI helped achieve a complete delineation of mesh borders.