What is the role of MRI in the workup of osteoporosis?

Updated: Jan 20, 2021
  • Author: Rachel Elizabeth Whitaker Elam, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be useful in identifying fractures and in the assessment of metabolic bone disease. Using fat-suppression sequences, marrow edema consistent with fracture may be noted as areas of hypointensity on T1-weighted images in association with corresponding areas of hyperintensity on T2-weighted images. MRI is a very sensitive modality and is believed by some to be the diagnostic imaging method of choice in the detection of acute fractures, such as sacral fractures.

MRI can be used to discriminate between acute and chronic fractures of the vertebrae and occult stress fractures of the proximal femur. These osteoporotic fractures demonstrate characteristic changes in the bone marrow that distinguish them from other uninvolved parts of the skeleton and the adjacent vertebrae.

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