Intervertebral disc lesions: visualisation with ultra-high field MRI at 11.7 T

Nikolaus Berger-Roscher, Fabio Galbusera, Volker Rasche, Hans Joachim Wilke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Tears and fissures in the intervertebral disc are probably influencing spinal stability. Discography investigations with the aim of fissure detection have been criticised and are discouraged. Therefore, alternative imaging methods, such as MRI, must be investigated. Methods: A custom-made device was used to insert six needles with different diameters (0.3–2.2 mm/30–14 G) into the annulus of six bovine tail discs (Cy2–Cy3). Directly after removal of the needles, the discs were scanned in an 11.7 T MRI (Res.: 0.059 × 0.059 × 0.625 mm3, tscan: 31 min), in a 3 T MRI with a clinical and additionally with two experimental protocols (exp_HR: Res.: 0.3 mm3, tscan: 97 min/exp_LR: Res.: 0.5 mm3, tscan: 13.4 min). The obtained images were analysed for lesion volume and lesion length using a 3D-reconstruction software. Results: At 11.7 T, all lesions were visible along with the lamellar structure of the annulus. In the clinical 3 T images, no lesions were visible at all. The 3 T experimental protocols revealed 4 (exp_HR) and 2 (exp_LR) of the 6 lesions. The reconstructed lesions did not have an ideal cylindrical shape. The measured volumes of the lesions ranged from 0.7 to 13.9 mm3 (11.7 T), 0.1–11.4 mm3 (exp_HR) and 0.0–12.4 mm3 (exp_LR) and correlated, but were smaller than the corresponding needle size. The lengths of all needle lesions ranged from 2.9 to 12.3 mm (11.7 T), 0.8–9.7 mm (exp_HR) and 0.0–9.7 mm (exp_LR). Conclusions: Ultra-high field MRI at 11.7 T is a non-invasive tool to directly visualise annular lesions in vitro, while a 3 T MRI, even with experimental protocols and longer scanning times, demonstrates limited ability. In vivo, it is problematic with the clinical systems available today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2488-2495
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jul 24 2015


  • 11.7 Tesla
  • Intervertebral disc
  • Lesion
  • MRI
  • Ultra-high field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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