BACKGROUND: Super-resolution is an emerging method for enhancing MRI resolution; however, its impact on image quality is still unknown.PURPOSE: To evaluate MRI super-resolution using quantitative and qualitative metrics of cartilage morphometry, osteophyte detection, and global image blurring.STUDY TYPE: Retrospective.POPULATION: In all, 176 MRI studies of subjects at varying stages of osteoarthritis.FIELD STRENGTH/SEQUENCE: Original-resolution 3D double-echo steady-state (DESS) and DESS with 3* thicker slices retrospectively enhanced using super-resolution and tricubic interpolation (TCI) at 3T.ASSESSMENT: A quantitative comparison of femoral cartilage morphometry was performed for the original-resolution DESS, the super-resolution, and the TCI scans in 17 subjects. A reader study by three musculoskeletal radiologists assessed cartilage image quality, overall image sharpness, and osteophytes incidence in all three sets of scans. A referenceless blurring metric evaluated blurring in all three image dimensions for the three sets of scans.STATISTICAL TESTS: Mann-Whitney U-tests compared Dice coefficients (DC) of segmentation accuracy for the DESS, super-resolution, and TCI images, along with the image quality readings and blurring metrics. Sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic odds ratio (DOR) with 95% confidence intervals compared osteophyte detection for the super-resolution and TCI images, with the original-resolution as a reference.RESULTS: DC for the original-resolution (90.2±1.7%) and super-resolution (89.6±2.0%) were significantly higher (P<0.001) than TCI (86.3±5.6%). Segmentation overlap of super-resolution with the original-resolution (DC = 97.6±0.7%) was significantly higher (P<0.0001) than TCI overlap (DC = 95.0±1.1%). Cartilage image quality for sharpness and contrast levels, and the through-plane quantitative blur factor for super-resolution images, was significantly (P<0.001) better than TCI. Super-resolution osteophyte detection sensitivity of 80% (76-82%), specificity of 93% (92-94%), and DOR of 32 (22-46) was significantly higher (P<0.001) than TCI sensitivity of 73% (69-76%), specificity of 90% (89-91%), and DOR of 17 (13-22).DATA CONCLUSION: Super-resolution appears to consistently outperform naive interpolation and may improve image quality without biasing quantitative biomarkers.LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: 2 Technical Efficacy: Stage 2 J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2019.
View details for DOI 10.1002/jmri.26872
View details for PubMedID 31313397