Evaluation of steady and pulsatile flow with dynamic MRI using limited flip angles and gradient refocused echoes.
Magnetic resonance imaging sequences utilizing limited flip angles and gradient echoes yield rapid (less than 2 min) dynamic images of the cardiovascular system. These images contain both accurate anatomical and functional information. Using a gradient refocused acquisition in the steady state (GRASS) in the CINE mode, we studied the relationship between gradient echo signal intensity and velocity of steady and pulsatile flow in a phantom simulating medium to large vessels. Images were acquired on a 1.5 Tesla system (repetition time = 21 ms, echo time = 12 ms, flip angle = 30 degrees). Data from each pulse interval were sorted in 16 images. Signal intensities from flow tube lumina and surrounding stationary water jacket were used to calculate contrast ratios which were compared to velocity measurements made with electromagnetic (EM) flow probes outside the magnet room. During steady flow, signal intensity contrast ratios increased with increasing flow and in a 10 mm thick slice, reached a peak at 48 cm/s, and declined for velocities up to 90 cm/s. Changes in instantaneous velocity during pulsatile flow correlated well (r greater than .88) with signal intensity changes up to a maximum mean velocity of 17 cm/s. Total signal intensity from the lumen for an "R to R" interval correlated extremely well (r greater than .97) with mean pulsatile flow velocities up to 30 cm/s. The excellent correlation between gradient echo signal intensity and actual flow velocities suggests that this imaging sequence might be useful for evaluating normal and pathologic flow phenomena.
Evans, AJ; Hedlund, LW; Herfkens, RJ; Utz, JA; Fram, EK; Blinder, RA
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