This site is targeted at medical and radiology professionals, contains user contributed content, and material that may be confusing to a lay audience. Use of this site implies acceptance of our Terms of Use.

Magic angle effect - MRI artefact

The magic angle is an MRI artefact which occurs on sequences with a short TE (less than 32ms; T1W sequences, PD sequences and gradient echo sequences). 

It is confined to regions of tightly bound collagen at 54.74° from the main magnetic field (Bo), and appears hyper intense, thus potentially being mistaken for tendonopathy.

In tightly bound collagens, water molleules are restricted usually causing very short T2 times, accounting for the lack of signal. When molecules lie at 54.74° there is lengthening of T2 times (don't understand why, but it involves 'bipolar coupling') with corresponding increase in signal.

Typical sites include :

  • proximal part of the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
  • peroneal tendons as they hook around the lateral malleolus.
  • cartilage can also be affected e.g. femoral condyles
  • supraspinatus tendon
  • triangular fibrocartilage complex (if the patient is imaged with the arm elevated)

It appears that at 3.0T the effects are reduced.

Tends to occur only on short TE sequences (e.g. T1, GRE, PD) - sequences with a longer TE (e.g. T2 including FSE T2) can be used to avoid this artefact.

Other non-pathologic causes of high signal within tendons include near tendon insertions, and/or where the tendon normally fans out or merges with other tendons.

Related articles

MRI physics

Updating… Please wait.

 Details successfully updated.

Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.