Introduction Over the past 20 years, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has advanced due to new techniques involving increased magnetic field strength and developments in coils and pulse sequences. These advances allow increased opportunity to delineate the complex skull base anatomy and may guide the diagnosis and treatment of the myriad of pathologies that can affect the skull base.
Objectives The objective of this article is to provide a brief background of the development of MRI and illustrate advances in skull base imaging, including techniques that allow improved conspicuity, characterization, and correlative physiologic assessment of skull base pathologies.
Data Synthesis Specific radiographic illustrations of increased skull base conspicuity including the lower cranial nerves, vessels, foramina, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks, and effacement of endolymph are provided. In addition, MRIs demonstrating characterization of skull base lesions, such as recurrent cholesteatoma versus granulation tissue or abscess versus tumor, are also provided as well as correlative clinical findings in CSF flow studies in a patient pre- and post-suboccipital decompression for a Chiari I malformation.
Conclusions This article illustrates MRI radiographic advances over the past 20 years, which have improved clinicians' ability to diagnose, define, and hopefully improve the treatment and outcomes of patients with underlying skull base pathologies.