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J Magn Reson Imaging. 2012 Jun;35(6):1338-48. doi: 10.1002/jmri.23577. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

Ischemic extent as a biomarker for characterizing severity of coronary artery stenosis with blood oxygen-sensitive MRI.

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Department of Computer Science and Applications, IMT-Institutions Markets Technologies Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, Lucca, Italy.



To investigate whether a statistical analysis of myocardial blood-oxygen-level-dependent (mBOLD) signal intensities can lead to the identification and quantification of the ischemic area supplied by the culprit artery.


Cardiac BOLD images were acquired in a canine model (n = 9) with controllable LCX stenosis at rest and during adenosine infusion on a 1.5T clinical scanner. Statistical distributions of myocardial pixel-intensities derived from BOLD images were used to compute an area metric (ischemic extent, IE). True myocardial perfusion was estimated from microsphere analysis. IE was compared against a standard metric (segment-intensity-response, SIR). Additional animals (n = 3) were used to investigate the feasibility of the approach for identifying ischemic territories due to LAD stenosis from mBOLD images.


Regression analyses showed that IE and myocardial flow ratio between rest and adenosine infusion (MFR) were exponentially related (R(2) > 0.70, P < 0.001, for end-systole and end-diastole), while SIR and MFR were linearly related to end-systole (R(2) = 0.51, P < 0.04) and unrelated to end-diastole (R(2) ≈ 0, P = 0.91). Receiver-operating-characteristic analysis that IE was superior to SIR for detecting critical stenosis (MFR ≤ 2) in end-systole and end-diastole. Feasibility studies on LAD narrowing demonstrated that the proposed approach could also identify oxygenation changes in the LAD territories.


The proposed evaluation of cardiac BOLD magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers marked improvement in sensitivity and specificity for detecting critical coronary stenosis at 1.5T compared to the mean segmental intensity approach. Patient studies are now warranted to determine its clinical utility.

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