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NMR Biomed. 2006 Feb;19(1):77-83.

Magnetic resonance angiography of collateral vessel growth in a rabbit femoral artery ligation model.

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Department of Radiology, Maastricht University Hospital, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Collateral vessel growth was visualized in a rabbit femoral artery ligation model by serial contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) at 1.5 T in comparison with X-ray angiography (XRA). XRA and MRA were performed directly after femoral artery ligation (day 0+) and after 7 and 21 days. XRA (in-plane resolution, 0.3x0.3 mm) was performed with arterial catheterization for fast injection of iodinated contrast agent just proximal to the aortic bifurcation. MRA (in-plane, 0.6x0.6 mm) was performed at 1.5 T with a five-element phased-array coil and slow injection of gadolinium-based MR contrast agent into an ear vein. Collateral vessel scores on two-dimensional XRA projections and on three-dimensional digitally subtracted rotational MRA maximum intensity projections were obtained by two observers and compared. Collateral vessel counts and minimal detectable vessel diameters for MRA and XRA were combined in a computational flow model to interpret differences in spatial detection limits between imaging modalities in terms of flow. Collateral vessel scores were significantly higher in the ligated limb at day 7 (P < 0.05) and more so at day 21 (P < 0.001), in comparison with day 0+ or in the non-ligated control limb on both XRA and MRA. Significantly more (smaller) vessels were visualized with XRA than with MRA, particularly on day 21 (P < 0.05). Inter-observer agreement was high for both XRA (kappa = 0.82) and MRA (kappa = 0.78). The flow model showed that collateral vessels with diameters > 0.3 mm scored by XRA as well as MRA represent nearly 100% of the total blood flow, whereas smaller (0.1-0.3 mm diameter) vessels that can only be detected with XRA contribute little to the blood flow. Serial contrast-enhanced MRA can non-invasively visualize sub-millimeter collateral vessels that represent nearly 100% of the restored blood flow, in a femoral artery ligation model.

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