OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the potential use of a novel 3D turbo spin-echo (TSE) T2-weighted (T2w) technique for assessing the vessel wall in the superficial femoral artery at 3.0 T. BACKGROUND: Magnetic resonance imaging can be used for the noninvasive assessment of atherosclerotic plaque burden in the peripheral circulation. Although black-blood 2D TSE techniques have been used for femoral arterial wall imaging, these techniques require prolonged imaging time to cover a large field of view required to cover the leg. Recently, variable-flip-angle 3D TSE T2w (SPACE) has been introduced as a fast vessel wall imaging technique with submillimeter spatial resolution. A systematic investigation of the application of this technique to femoral arterial wall imaging has yet to be performed. METHODS: Fifteen healthy volunteers and 3 patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) underwent 3D SPACE imaging of the superficial femoral artery at 3.0 T, with the conventional 2D TSE T2w imaging as a reference. Muscle-lumen contrast to noise ratio (CNR) and wall/lumen volumes (WV, LV) were measured at the matched locations on the 3D and 2D image sets. Statistical comparison on a per-subject basis was conducted to determine the difference and agreement between 3D SPACE and the 2D TSE techniques. RESULTS: The 3D SPACE data sets enabled vessel visualization from arbitrary orientation through multiplanar reformation technique. Muscle-lumen CNR was significantly higher with 3D SPACE than with the 2D TSE (3.12 +/- 0.84 vs. 2.17 +/- 0.34, P < 0.01). This trend was confirmed when CNR efficiency (CNR(eff)) values were further compared. A similar trend was observed in PAD patients (SPACE vs. 2D TSE T2w: CNR 2.35 +/- 0.13 vs. 1.77 +/- 0.25; CNR(eff) 15.35 +/- 0.61 vs. 3.59 +/- 2.62. all P < 0.05). Measurements of WV and LV from the 3D and 2D techniques were highly correlated in volunteers and PAD patients (volunteers, WV: linear regression r2 = 0.98, LV: r2 = 0.98, P < 0.001 for both; patients, WV: linear regression r2 = 0.96, LV: r2 = 0.94, P < 0.001 for both). CONCLUSION: We established the feasibility of using the 3D SPACE technique for vessel wall imaging in the superficial femoral artery at 3.0T. High, isotropic-resolution SPACE images, with the aid of multiplanar reformation, enable superior vessel wall visualization. Superior blood signal suppression comparable to vessel wall morphologic measurements, and superior time efficiency compared to conventional 2D TSE imaging indicate the great potential of the SPACE method as a noninvasive imaging technique for the assessment of atherosclerotic plaque burden in PAD patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging