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Invest Radiol. 2013 Jul;48(7):525-34. doi: 10.1097/RLI.0b013e3182839c2b.

Nonenhanced magnetic resonance angiography of the lower extremity vessels at 7 tesla: initial experience.

Author information

  • 1Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology and Neuroradiology, University Hospital Essen, 45147 Essen, Germany. anja.fischer@uk-essen.de

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of nonenhanced magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) of the lower extremities at 7 tesla (T).

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Eight healthy volunteers were examined on a 7-T whole-body magnetic resonance system. For image acquisition, a custom-built 16-channel transmit/receive coil and a manually positionable AngioSURF table for multistation imaging were used. A nonenhanced T1-weighted 2-dimensional fast low-angle shot (2D FLASH) sequence was acquired with and without venous saturation radiofrequency pulses in axial orientation, covering the vasculature from the pelvis to the feet. Acquisition time of 1 table position amounted to 2 minutes and 19 seconds (with venous saturation pulse) and 1 minute and 9 seconds (without venous saturation pulse), covering a field of view of approximately 10 cm in the z-axis. Time-interleaved acquisition of modes was integrated to obtain homogeneous image quality of the vasculature. A qualitative image analysis was performed in the iliac, femoral, popliteal, and tibiofibular vessel segments regarding vessel delineation using a 5-point scale (5 to 1, excellent vessel delineation to nondiagnostic). For the quantitative image evaluation, the signal was measured in the specified segments and in the surrounding musculature of both legs to obtain contrast ratios (CR).

RESULTS:

T1-weighted 2D FLASH imaging enabled homogeneous, hyperintense delineation of the arteries with saturation of surrounding tissue in almost all analyzed vessel segments. The qualitative image evaluation demonstrated a moderate to good delineation and assessment of the vessel lumen (mean score: iliac, 3.17; femoral, 3.71; popliteal, 4.00; and tibiofibular, 3.31 for 2D FLASH). The quantitative analysis showed similar CRs in all vessel segments, with the best contrast to surrounding tissue achieved in the femoral segments (CRiliac, 0.59; CRfemoral, 0.69; CRpopliteal, 0.74; and CRtibiofibular, 0.57), although a medial signal drop-off in the thigh region could be found in some volunteers. Transformation of the axial images into coronal maximum intensity projection images revealed an artifact characterized by recurrent short declines of vessel signal, most probably because of an interference between the alternating pressure and flow effects during systole and diastole and the image acquisition frequency. Nevertheless, the use of time-interleaved acquisition of modes enabled a homogenous image quality with successful reduction of B1 field inhomogeneities.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results of our study demonstrate the feasibility of non-contrast-agent-enhanced MRA of the lower extremity vessels at 7 T. Nonenhanced MRA of the lower extremities at this very high magnetic field can be considered to be in an early but promising stage. Further sequence optimization and the examination of a larger number of participants as well as comparison with contrast-enhanced MRA and nonenhanced techniques at lower field strengths should be pursued in future trials.

PMID:
23493120
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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