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Nonvascular Thoracic Magnetic Resonance Imaging: The Current State of Training, Utilization, and Perceived ValueSurvey of the Society of Thoracic Radiology Membership

Ackman, Jeanne B. MD; Wu, Carol C. MD; Halpern, Elkan F. PhD; Abbott, Gerald F. MD; Shepard, Jo-Anne O. MD

doi: 10.1097/RTI.0000000000000072
Original Articles

Purpose: The aim of the study was to determine the current state of training, utilization, and perceived value of nonvascular thoracic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Materials and Methods: The URL link for this anonymous, IRB-approved survey was e-mailed to all Society of Thoracic Radiology members with available e-mail addresses (733), of whom 693 were qualified to respond as per the survey’s instructions. Survey questions focused on MRI training, interpretation volume, perceived value of thoracic MRI, and barriers to its utilization. Study data were collected and managed using Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) electronic data capture tools and analyzed with χ2 tests.

Results: The survey response rate was 27% (190/693). Thirty-seven percent (67/180) of respondents reported that they interpreted and reported zero thoracic MRIs and 64% (116/182) interpreted or reported <10 MRIs over the prior year. The perceived value of thoracic MRI was highest for chest wall and neurovascular involvement and evaluation of the mediastinum, particularly thymus, next highest for assessment of pleural or diaphragmatic lesions, and lowest for assessment of lung function with hyperpolarized gases. Seventy-three percent (121/166) of respondents felt it would be of value to increase utilization of thoracic MRI. Perceived obstacles to increasing thoracic MRI utilization included lack of: awareness of referring health care providers as to the value of thoracic MRI (59%, 98/166), radiologist proficiency or comfort with thoracic MRI (46%, 77/166), standardized protocols (38%, 64/166), technologist experience (38%, 63/166), and sufficient training during residency and/or fellowship (32%, 54/166). Twenty-five percent (41/166) of respondents reported insufficient thoracic MRI literature and limited CME courses and lectures in this field as an additional impediment.

Conclusions: The majority of survey respondents reported limited experience in thoracic MRI interpretation, a recognition of thoracic MRI’s value, and an interest in increasing its utilization. Improved education of radiologists, technologists, and referring clinicians would ameliorate the current state.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.

*Department of Radiology, Division of Thoracic Imaging and Intervention

Department of Radiology, Harvard Medical School

Institute for Technology Assessment, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA

Supplemental Digital Content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Website,

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Jeanne B. Ackman, MD, Department of Radiology, Division of Thoracic Imaging and Intervention, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Founders House 202, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114 (e-mail:

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