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Contrast agent influences MRI phase-contrast flow measurements in small vessels.

Journal article
Authors Kerstin M Lagerstrand
Barbro Vikhoff-Baaz
Göran Starck
Eva Forssell-Aronsson
Published in Magnetic resonance in medicine
Volume 64
Issue 1
Pages 42-46
ISSN 1522-2594
Publication year 2010
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Radiation Physics
Pages 42-46
Language en
Keywords magnetic resonance imaging, phase-contrast, spatial resolution, contrast agent, spatial resolution
Subject categories Radiological physics


Contrast-enhanced MR angiography is often combined with phase contrast (PC) flow measurement to answer a particular clinical question. The contrast agent that is administered during contrast-enhanced MR angiography may still be present in the blood during the consecutive PC flow measurement. The aim of this work was to evaluate the influence of contrast agent on PC flow measurements in small vessels. For that purpose, both in vivo measurements and computer simulations were performed. The dependence of the PC flow quantification on the signal amplitude difference between blood and stationary background tissue for various vessel sizes was characterized. Results show that the partial-volume effect strongly affects the accuracy of the PC flow quantification when the imaged vessel is small compared to the spatial resolution. A higher blood-to-background-contrast level during imaging significantly increases the partial-volume effect and thereby reduces the accuracy of the flow quantification. On the other hand, a higher blood-to-background-contrast level facilitated the segmentation of the vessel for flow rate determination. PC flow measurements should therefore be performed after contrast agent administration in large vessels, but before contrast agent administration in small vessels.

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