Intracranial MRA: Single Volume vs. Multiple Thin Slab 3D Time-of-Flight Acquisition

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Single volume three-dimensional (3D) time-of-flight (TOF) MR angiography is the most commonly used noninvasive method for evaluating the intracranial vasculature. The sensitivity of this technique to signal loss from flow saturation limits its utility. A recently developed multislab 3D TOF technique, MOTSA, is less affected by flow saturation and would therefore be expected to yield improved vessel visualization. To study this hypothesis, intracranial MR angiograms were obtained on 10 volunteers using three techniques; MOTSA, single volume 3D TOF using a standard 4.9 ms TE (3D TOFA), and single volume 3D TOF using a 6.8 ms TE (3D TOFB). All three sets of axial source images and maximum intensity projection (MIP) images were reviewed. Each exam was evaluated for the number of intracranial vessels visualized. A total of 502 vessel segments were studied with each technique. With use of the MIP images, 86% of selected vessels were visualized with MOTSA, 64% with 3D TOFA (TE = 4.9 ms), and 67% with TOFB (TE = 6.8 ms). Similarly, with the axial source images, 91% of selected vessels were visualized with MOTSA, 77% with 3D TOFA (TE = 4.9 ms), and 82% with 3D TOFB (TE = 6.8 ms). There is improved visualization of selected intracranial vessels in normal volunteers with MOTSA as compared with single volume 3D TOF. These improvements are believed to be primarily a result of decreased sensitivity to flow saturation seen with the MOTSA technique. No difference in overall vessel visualization was noted for the two single volume 3D TOF techniques. Index Terms: Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)— Magnetic resonance angiography, techniques—Magnetic resonance imaging, techniques.

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