Contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography in peripheral arterial disease: Improving image quality by automated image registration

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In peripheral arterial disease, contrast-enhanced MR angiography (MRA) is a noninvasive imaging alternative for catheter-based digital subtraction angiography (DSA). In DSA, final images are generated by subtracting a native mask image from subsequent contrast-enhanced images. Image quality is routinely improved by digitally shifting the mask image prior to subtraction if the patient has moved during angiography. This study investigated whether such image registration may also help to improve the image quality of MRA. In all, 545 MRA examinations of pelvic and leg arteries in patients with symptoms of peripheral arterial disease were studied retrospectively. Standard nonregistered MRA was compared to automatically linear, affine, and warp registered MRA by visual analysis and by three image quality parameters, including vessel detection probability (VDP) of angiographic maximum intensity projections. Most MRA of pelvic and upper leg arteries showed good nonregistered image quality. However, the 15% of lower legs with a body shift of 1 mm or more had relatively low nonregistered image quality, which improved significantly with image registration (VDP gain more than 18%,P< 0.05). The visual analysis gave similar results. In conclusion, image registration can improve image quality of MRA in peripheral arterial disease, especially in the lower legs. Magn Reson Med 60:224–229, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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