MRI assessment of local acute radiation syndrome.
ABSTRACT OBJECTIVES: To describe local acute radiation syndrome and its radiological imaging characteristics. METHODS: We performed a retrospective study of patients who had suffered skin and deeper radiation damage who were investigated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We compared the clinical findings, C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and MRI results. RESULTS: A total of 22 MRI examinations were performed between 2005 and 2010 in 7 patients; 6 patients had increased CRP levels and MRI abnormalities. They were treated by surgery and local cellular therapy. One patient had no CRP or MRI abnormalities, and had a spontaneous good outcome. Eighteen abnormal MR examinations demonstrated high STIR signal and/or abnormal enhancement in the dermis and muscle tissues. Three MRI examinations demonstrated skeletal abnormalities, consistent with radionecrosis. The four normal MRI examinations were associated only with minor clinical manifestations such as pain and pigmentation disorders. CONCLUSION: MRI seems to be a useful and promising imaging investigation in radiation burns management i.e. initial lesion evaluation, treatment evaluation and complication diagnosis. MRI findings correlated perfectly with clinical stage and no false negative examinations were obtained. In particular, the association between normal MRI and low CRP level seems to be related to good outcome without specific treatment. KEY POINTS : • Local acute radiation syndrome (radioepidermitis) mainly affects the skin and superficial tissues. • MRI findings correspond with clinical stage (with a strong negative predictive value). • MRI outperformed X-ray examination for the diagnosis of bone radionecrosis. • Diffusion-weighted imaging shows low ADC in bone and soft tissue necrosis. • Perfusion sequence allows assessment of tissue microcirculation impairment.