The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of a novel iterative denoising and image enhancement technique in T1-weighted precontrast and postcontrast volume-interpolated breath-hold examination (VIBE) of the abdomen on image quality, noise levels, and diagnostic confidence without change of acquisition parameters.
Materials and Methods
Fifty patients were included in this retrospective, monocentric, institutional review board–approved study after clinically indicated magnetic resonance imaging of the abdomen including T1-weighted precontrast and postcontrast imaging. After acquisition of the standard VIBE (VIBES), images were processed with a novel reconstruction algorithm using the same raw data as for VIBES, resulting in a denoised and enhanced dataset (VIBEDE). Two different radiologists evaluated both datasets in a randomized order regarding sharpness of organs as well as vessels, noise levels, artifacts, overall image quality, and diagnostic confidence using a Likert scale ranging from 1 to 4 with 4 being the best. Furthermore, in the presence of focal liver lesions, the largest lesion was measured in the postcontrast dataset, and lesion detectability was analyzed using a Likert scale (1–4).
Precontrast and postcontrast sharpness of organs and sharpness of vessels were rated significantly superior by both readers in VIBEDE with a median of 4 (interquartile range, 0) compared with VIBES with a median of 3 (1) (all P's < 0.0001). Precontrast and postcontrast noise levels were also rated superior by both readers in VIBEDE with a median of 4 (0) compared with VIBES with a median of 3 (1) for precontrast and a median of 3 (0) (median of 3  for reader 2) for postcontrast imaging (all P's < 0.0001).
Overall image quality was also rated higher with a median of 4 (0) in VIBEDE versus 3 (1) in VIBES (P < 0.0001). Twenty-seven imaging studies contained liver lesions. There was no difference regarding the number and localization between the readers and between VIBES and VIBEDE. Lesion detectability was rated by both readers significantly better in VIBEDE with a median of 4 (0) compared with a median of 4 (1) for reader 1 and a median of 3 (1) for reader 2 (P = 0.001 for reader 1; P < 0.001 for reader 2). Consequently, diagnostic confidence was also significantly superior in VIBEDE versus VIBES with a median of 4 (0) for both (P = 0.001). Interreader agreement resulted in a Cohen κ of 0.76 for precontrast analysis as well as of 0.76 for postcontrast analysis.
Application of a novel iterative denoising and image enhancement technique in T1-weighted VIBE precontrast and postcontrast imaging of the abdomen is feasible, providing superior image quality, noise levels, and diagnostic confidence.