E5366. MRI Physics Lab: Proof of Concept
  1. Nikhil Goyal; James A. Haley Veterans Hospital
  2. Desmond Yeoh; Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra
  3. Matthew Pavlica; Downstate Medical Center
MRI is a powerful imaging modality used in diagnosing many diseases. As radiologists, we are expected to have knowledge of MRI interpretation, the technique of image acquisition, and the underlying physical principles that generate an image. The current model for teaching MRI physics is a lecture-based format combined with supplemental reading material. Here we test the idea of an MRI physics demonstration laboratory as a means for residents to learn MRI physics principles by direct observation.

Materials and Methods:
Participants were limited to radiology residents currently in training. They were divided into two groups and all participants took a pretest to determine their baseline knowledge. One group (group A) was presented the material at the MRI scanner by viewing a physics demonstration protocol devised by a radiologist and medical physicist. The protocol consisted of pairs of sequences the demonstrated how changing parameters such as TR, TE, FOV, and flip angle (FA) would affect the image output. Inanimate objects such as a grapefruit and a stick of butter were scanned instead of patients. The other group (group B) was presented with similar material in the traditional lecture format via a recorded lecture on a shared hard drive. Both groups then took a posttest to assess if there were any gains in knowledge. Two weeks later, the groups were switched and a second set of pre- and posttest questions were given. Differences in pretest and posttest scores were noted for each group and both groups were compared. Finally, a qualitative focus group session was held 1 month later to gain feedback as to the value of the novel delivery method.

Group A had a large increase in test score after the MRI session, improving from 33% to 62%. After the lecture session, the percentage of correct scores only increased from 54% to 57%. The number of "I don't know" responses fell after both sessions, but the decrease was more pronounced after the MRI session. When stratified by age, R1 and R2 residents benefited more from the MRI session with a score increase of 33% as compared to R3 and R4 scores, which increased by 23%. In group B, both the lecture and MRI session improved test scores; from 42% to 47% after the lecture series and from 33% to 67% after the MRI session. The number of "I don't knows" also fell from 8 to 6 after the lecture and from 7 to 2 after the MRI session. When stratified by age, R1 and R2 residents saw a more significant improvement in their scores after the MRI session when compared to R3 and R4 residents, similar to group A.

This is a proof-of-concept study showing that an MRI demonstration laboratory is a possible means for teaching MRI physics. It is not inferior to the traditional format for learning basic MRI physics material. Rather than replace current teaching methods, this may serve as a compliment to lectures. To our knowledge, no one has published similar work.