At present time, both CT and MRI are valuable techniques in the study of the thoracic aorta. Nowadays, CT represents the most widely employed technique for the study of the thoracic aorta. The new generation CTs show sensitivities up to 100% and specificities of 98-99%. Sixteen and wider row detectors provide isotropic pixels, mandatory for the ineludible longitudinal reconstruction. The main limits are related to the X-ray dose expoure and the use of iodinated contrast media. MRI has great potential in the study of the thoracic aorta. Nevertheless, if compared to CT, acquisition times remain longer and movement artifact susceptibility higher. The main MRI disadvantages are claustrophobia, presence of ferromagnetic implants, pacemakers, longer acquisition times with respect to CT, inability to use contrast media in cases of renal insufficiency, lower spatial resolution and less availability than CT. CT is preferred in the acute aortic disease. Nevertheless, since it requires iodinated contrast media and X-ray exposure, it may be adequately replaced by MRI in the follow up of aortic diseases. The main limitation of MRI, however, is related to the scarce visibility of stents and calcifications.
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