Fully automated tool to identify the aorta and compute flow using phase-contrast MRI: Validation and application in a large population based study

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Abstract

Purpose:

To assess if fully automated localization of the aorta can be achieved using phase contrast (PC) MR images.

Materials and Methods:

PC cardiac-gated MR images were obtained as part of a large population-based study. A fully automated process using the Hough transform was developed to localize the ascending aorta (AAo) and descending aorta (DAo). The study was designed to validate this technique by determining: (i) its performance in localizing the AAo and DAo; (ii) its accuracy in generating AAo flow volume and DAo flow volume; and (iii) its robustness on studies with pathological abnormalities or imaging artifacts.

Results:

The algorithm was applied successfully on 1884 participants. In the randomly selected 50-study validation set, linear regression shows an excellent correlation between the automated (A) and manual (M) methods for AAo flow (r = 0.99) and DAo flow (r = 0.99). Bland-Altman difference analysis demonstrates strong agreement with minimal bias for: AAo flow (mean difference [A-M] = 0.47 ± 2.53 mL), and DAo flow (mean difference [A-M] = 1.74 ± 2.47 mL).

Conclusion:

A robust fully automated tool to localize the aorta and provide flow volume measurements on phase contrast MRI was validated on a large population-based study. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2014;40:221–228. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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