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Radiology. 2013 Sep;268(3):770-8. doi: 10.1148/radiol.13122234. Epub 2013 Jun 20.

Human renovascular disease: estimating fractional tissue hypoxia to analyze blood oxygen level-dependent MR.

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  • 1Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Department of Radiology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.



To test the hypothesis that fractional kidney hypoxia, measured by using blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, correlates with renal blood flow (RBF), tissue perfusion, and glomerular filtration rate (GFR) in patients with atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis (RAS) better than regionally selected region of interest-based methods.


The study was approved by the institutional review board according to a HIPAA-compliant protocol, with written informed consent. BOLD MR imaging was performed in 40 patients with atherosclerotic RAS (age range, 51-83 years; 22 men, 18 women) and 32 patients with essential hypertension (EH) (age range, 26-85 years; 19 men, 13 women) during sodium intake and renin-angiotensin blockade. Fractional kidney hypoxia (percentage of entire axial image section with R2* above 30 sec(-1)) and conventional regional estimates of cortical and medullary R2* levels were measured. Stenotic and nonstenotic contralateral kidneys were compared for volume, tissue perfusion, and blood flow measured with multidetector computed tomography. Statistical analysis was performed (paired and nonpaired t tests, linear regression analysis).


Stenotic RBF was reduced compared with RBF of contralateral kidneys (225.2 mL/min vs 348 mL/min, P = .0003). Medullary perfusion in atherosclerotic RAS patients was lower than in EH patients (1.07 mL/min per milliliter of tissue vs 1.3 mL/min per milliliter of tissue, P = .009). While observer-selected cortical R2* (18.9 sec(-1) [stenosis] vs 18.5 sec(-1) [EH], P = .07) did not differ, fractional kidney hypoxia was higher in stenotic kidneys compared with kidneys with EH (17.4% vs 9.6%, P < .0001) and contralateral kidneys (7.2%, P < .0001). Fractional hypoxia correlated inversely with blood flow (r = -0.34), perfusion (r = -0.3), and GFR (r = -0.32).


Fractional tissue hypoxia rather than cortical or medullary R2* values used to assess renal BOLD MR imaging demonstrated a direct relationship to chronically reduced blood flow and GFR.

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