Purpose: Although androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is a common cause of hair loss, little is known regarding the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the AGA or scalp. This study aimed to analyze whether MRI for hair and scalp (MRH) can evaluate anatomical changes in the scalp caused by AGA. Methods: Twenty-seven volunteers were graded for the severity of AGA using the Hamilton-Norwood Scale (HNS), commonly used classification system. All subjects underwent MRH; two radiologists independently analyzed the images. As a quantitative measurement, the number of hair follicles was analyzed and compared with the HNS. As a qualitative analysis, each MRH scan was visually graded in terms of the severity of alopecia, using a 4-point MR severity score. The scores were compared with the HNS. Results: The volunteers were divided into two groups of 12 and 15 males without and with AGA at their vertex, respectively. Inter-observer agreements for the hair count and the MR severity score were excellent. The mean hair count on MRI in the normal group was significantly higher than that in the AGA group (P < 10-4). The MR severity score in the AGA group was significantly more severe than that in the control group (P < 10-4). In terms of the presence or absence of thinning hair, the MR severity score was consistent with the HNS determined by a plastic surgeon in 96% of cases. MR severity scores of clinically moderate AGA cases were significantly lower than those of severe cases (P = 0.022). Conclusion: MRH could depict scalp anatomy showing a clear difference between AGA and normal scalps, in both hair count and subjective visual assessment. The MR severity score was in good agreement with the clinical stages by HNS. The results support the potential of MRH as a promising imaging technique for analyzing healthy and pathological scalps.
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