Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is able to detect the increase of adipocytes in the hematopoietic bone marrow that occurs as a consequence of radiotherapy and is indicative of the loss of myeloid tissue. By monitoring this process, it is also possible to determine the recovery of the bone marrow. The amount of viable hematopoietic tissue plays a fundamental role in determining whether the patient is able to undergo further antineoplastic therapy, particularly chemotherapy. We examined 35 patients who had been treated with radiotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma (12), uterine cervix carcinoma (nine), ovarian dysgerminoma (six), testicular seminoma (four), and non- Hodgkin's lymphoma (four). We observed that radiation-induced modifications of the MRI pattern in the bone marrow are tightly linked to two parameters; the administered radiation dose and the length of time passed after the treatment. Bone marrow recovery was observed only when patients were treated with doses lower than 50 Gy. The earlier radiation-induced modifications of the bone marrow MRI pattern occurred 6 to 12 months after irradiation, and they were most evident 5 to 6 years after the treatment. From 2 to 9 years after radiotherapy, we observed partial recovery. Complete recovery, when it occurred, was observed only 10 to 23 years after the treatment. Our results indicate that MRI studies are likely to be useful in the assessment of radiation- induced injuries.

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