Prospective Comparison of Cartesian Acquisition with Projection-like Reconstruction Magnetic Resonance Angiography with Computed Tomography Angiography for Evaluation of below-the-Knee Runoff

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To compare prospectively the assessment of stenosis and radiologist confidence in the evaluation of below-the-knee lower extremity runoff vessels between computed tomography (CT) angiography and contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) angiography in a cohort of 19 clinical patients.

Materials and Methods:

The study was compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and approved by the institutional review board. Imaging was performed in 19 consecutive patients with known or suspected peripheral arterial disease; both CT angiography and a more recently developed MR angiography technique were performed within 24 hours of each other and before any therapeutic intervention. Resulting images were randomized and interpreted in blinded fashion by four board-certified radiologists with expertise in CT angiography and MR angiography. Vasculature of the lower leg was apportioned into 22 segments, 11 for each leg. For each segment, degree of stenosis and confidence of diagnosis were determined using a 3-point scale. Differences between CT angiography and MR angiography were assessed for significance using pooled histograms that were analyzed using the Wilcoxon signed rank test.


For assessment of stenosis, there was no difference in CT angiography compared with MR angiography for 20 of 22 segments. For confidence of diagnosis, assessment of popliteal arteries was superior on CT angiography compared with MR angiography (P<.05). Confidence in assessment of both tibioperoneal trunks and the left proximal anterior tibial artery was not significantly different between CT angiography and MR angiography. Confidence in assessment of all other 17 segments was superior with MR angiography compared with CT angiography (P<.02).


MR angiography using the method described here is a promising technique for evaluating lower extremity arterial runoff. MR angiography had an overall superior performance in radiologist confidence compared with CT angiography for imaging runoff vessels below the knee.

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