Technical Note: Quantitative dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI of a 3-dimensional artificial capillary network

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Abstract

Purpose

Variability across devices, patients, and time still hinders widespread recognition of dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) as quantitative biomarker. The purpose of this work was to introduce and characterize a dedicated microchannel phantom as a model for quantitative DCE-MRI measurements.

Methods

A perfusable, MR-compatible microchannel network was constructed on the basis of sacrificial melt-spun sugar fibers embedded in a block of epoxy resin. Structural analysis was performed on the basis of light microscopy images before DCE-MRI experiments. During dynamic acquisition the capillary network was perfused with a standard contrast agent injection system. Flow-dependency, as well as inter- and intrascanner reproducibility of the computed DCE parameters were evaluated using a 3.0 T whole-body MRI.

Results

Semi-quantitative and quantitative flow-related parameters exhibited the expected proportionality to the set flow rate (mean Pearson correlation coefficient: 0.991, P < 2.5e-5). The volume fraction was approximately independent from changes of the applied flow rate through the phantom. Repeatability and reproducibility experiments yielded maximum intrascanner coefficients of variation (CV) of 4.6% for quantitative parameters. All evaluated parameters were well in the range of known in vivo results for the applied flow rates.

Conclusion

The constructed phantom enables reproducible, flow-dependent, contrast-enhanced MR measurements with the potential to facilitate standardization and comparability of DCE-MRI examinations.

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