Measurement of cerebral blood flow using phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging and duplex ultrasonography

Muhammad Ayaz Khan, Jie Liu, Takashi Tarumi, Justin Stevan Lawley, Peiying Liu, David C. Zhu, Hanzhang Lu, Rong Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging (PC-MRI) and color-coded duplex ultrasonography (CDUS) are commonly used for measuring cerebral blood flow in the internal carotid (ICA) and vertebral arteries. However, agreement between the two methods has been controversial. Recent development of high spatial and temporal resolution blood vessel wall edge-detection and wall-tracking methods with CDUS increased the accuracy and reliability of blood vessel diameter, hence cerebral blood flow measurement. The aim of this study was to compare the improved CDUS method with 3 T PC-MRI for cerebral blood flow measurements. We found that cerebral blood flow velocity measured in the ICA was lower using PC-MRI than CDUS (left ICA: PC-MRI, 18.0 ± 4.2 vs. CDUS, 25.6 ± 8.6 cm/s; right ICA: PC-MRI, 18.5 ± 4.8 vs. CDUS, 26.6 ± 6.7 cm/s, both p < 0.01). However, ICA diameters measured using PC-MRI were larger (left ICA: PC-MRI, 4.7 ± 0.50 vs. CDUS, 4.1 ± 0.46 mm; right ICA: PC-MRI, 4.5 ± 0.49 vs. CDUS, 4.0 ± 0.45 mm, both p < 0.01). Cerebral blood flow velocity measured in the left vertebral artery with PC-MRI was also lower than CDUS, but no differences in vertebral artery diameter were observed between the methods. Dynamic changes and/or intrinsic physiological fluctuations may have caused these differences in vessel diameter and velocity measurements between the methods. However, estimation of volumetric cerebral blood flow was similar and correlated between the methods despite the presence of large individual differences. These findings support the use of CDUS for cerebral blood flow measurements in the ICA and vertebral artery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-549
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Cerebral blood flow
  • echo-tracking
  • internal carotid artery
  • phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging
  • ultrasonography
  • vertebral artery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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