Wall morphology, blood flow and wall shear stress: MR findings in patients with peripheral artery disease

Mauricio S. Galizia, Alex Barker, Yihua Liao, Jeremy Collins, James Carr, Mary M. McDermott, Michael Markl*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives: To investigate the influence of atherosclerotic plaques on femoral haemodynamics assessed by two-dimensional (2D) phase-contrast (PC) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with three-directional velocity encoding. Methods: During 1 year, patients with peripheral artery disease and an ankle brachial index <1.00 were enrolled. After institutional review board approval and written informed consent, 44 patients (age, 70±12 years) underwent common femoral artery MRI. Patients with contra-indications for MRI were excluded. Sequences included 2D time-of-flight, proton-density, T1-weighted and T2-weighted MRI. Electrocardiogram (ECG)-gated 2D PC-MRI with 3D velocity encoding was acquired. A radiologist classified images in five categories. Blood flow, velocity and wall shear stress (WSS) along the vessel circumference were quantified from the PC-MRI data. Results: The acquired images were of good quality for interpretation. There were no image quality problems related to poor ECG-gating or slice positioning. Velocities, oscillatory shear stress and total flow were similar between patients with normal arteries and wall thickening/plaque. Patients with plaques demonstrated regionally increased peak systolic WSS and enhanced WSS eccentricity. Conclusions: Combined multi-contrast morphological imaging of the peripheral arterial wall with PC-MRI with three-directional velocity encoding is a feasible technique. Further study is needed to determine whether flow is an appropriate marker for altered endothelial cell function, vascular remodelling and plaque progression. Key Points: • Femoral plaques are associated with altered dynamics of peripheral blood flow. • Multi-contrast MRI can investigate the presence and type of atherosclerotic plaques. • Three-dimensional velocity-encoding phase-contrast MRI can investigate flow and wall shear stress. • Atherosclerotic peripheral arteries demonstrate increased systolic velocities and wall shear stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)850-856
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Blood flow
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Phase-contrast MRI
  • Plaque
  • Wall shear stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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