Long-Delay Arterial Spin Labeling Provides More Accurate Cerebral Blood Flow Measurements in Moyamoya Patients: A Simultaneous Positron Emission Tomography/MRI Study

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Abstract

Background and Purpose—

Arterial spin labeling (ASL) MRI is a promising, noninvasive technique to image cerebral blood flow (CBF) but is difficult to use in cerebrovascular patients with abnormal, long arterial transit times through collateral pathways. To be clinically adopted, ASL must first be optimized and validated against a reference standard in these challenging patient cases.

Methods—

We compared standard-delay ASL (post-label delay=2.025 seconds), multidelay ASL (post-label delay=0.7–3.0 seconds), and long-label long-delay ASL acquisitions (post-label delay=4.0 seconds) against simultaneous [15O]-positron emission tomography (PET) CBF maps in 15 Moyamoya patients on a hybrid PET/MRI scanner. Dynamic susceptibility contrast was performed in each patient to identify areas of mild, moderate, and severe time-to-maximum (Tmax) delays. Relative CBF measurements by each ASL scan in 20 cortical regions were compared with the PET reference standard, and correlations were calculated for areas with moderate and severe Tmax delays.

Results—

Standard-delay ASL underestimated relative CBF by 20% in areas of severe Tmax delays, particularly in anterior and middle territories commonly affected by Moyamoya disease (P<0.001). Arterial transit times correction by multidelay acquisitions led to improved consistency with PET, but still underestimated CBF in the presence of long transit delays (P=0.02). Long-label long-delay ASL scans showed the strongest correlation relative to PET, and there was no difference in mean relative CBF between the modalities, even in areas of severe delays.

Conclusions—

Post-label delay times of ≥4 seconds are needed and may be combined with multidelay strategies for robust ASL assessment of CBF in Moyamoya disease.

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