Patients recovered from COVID-19 may develop long-COVID symptoms in the lung. For this patient population (post-COVID patients), they may benefit from longitudinal, radiation-free lung MRI exams for monitoring lung lesion development and progression. The purpose of this study was to investigate the performance of a spiral ultrashort echo time MRI sequence (Spiral-VIBE-UTE) in a cohort of post-COVID patients in comparison with CT and to compare image quality obtained using different spiral MRI acquisition protocols. Lung MRI was performed in 36 post-COVID patients with different acquisition protocols, including different spiral sampling reordering schemes (line in partition or partition in line) and different breath-hold positions (inspiration or expiration). Three experienced chest radiologists independently scored all the MR images for different pulmonary structures. Lung MR images from spiral acquisition protocol that received the highest image quality scores were also compared against corresponding CT images in 27 patients for evaluating diagnostic image quality and lesion identification. Spiral-VIBE-UTE MRI acquired with the line in partition reordering scheme in an inspiratory breath-holding position achieved the highest image quality scores (score range = 2.17–3.69) compared to others (score range = 1.7–3.29). Compared to corresponding chest CT images, three readers found that 81.5% (22 out of 27), 81.5% (22 out of 27) and 37% (10 out of 27) of the MR images were useful, respectively. Meanwhile, they all agreed that MRI could identify significant lesions in the lungs. The Spiral-VIBE-UTE sequence allows for fast imaging of the lung in a single breath hold. It could be a valuable tool for lung imaging without radiation and could provide great value for managing different lung diseases including assessment of post-COVID lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Lung imaging
  • MRI
  • Post-COVID
  • Spiral sampling
  • Stack-of-spirals
  • Ultrashort echo time


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