Saam, Tobias; Raya, Jose G.; Cyran, Clemens C.; Bochmann, Katja; Meimarakis, Georgios; Dietrich, Olaf; Clevert, Dirk A.; Frey, Ute; Yuan, Chun; Hatsukami, Thomas S.; Werf, Abe; Reiser, Maximilian F.; Nikolaou, Konstantin:
High resolution carotid black-blood 3T MR with parallel imaging and dedicated 4-channel surface coils.
In: Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance
Background: Most of the carotid plaque MR studies have been performed using black-blood protocols at 1.5 T without parallel imaging techniques. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a multi-sequence, black-blood MR protocol using parallel imaging and a dedicated 4-channel surface coil for vessel wall imaging of the carotid arteries at 3 T. Materials and methods: 14 healthy volunteers and 14 patients with intimal thickening as proven by duplex ultrasound had their carotid arteries imaged at 3 T using a multi-sequence protocol (time-of-flight MR angiography, pre-contrast T1w-, PDw- and T2w sequences in the volunteers, additional post-contrast T1w- and dynamic contrast enhanced sequences in patients). To assess intrascan reproducibility, 10 volunteers were scanned twice within 2 weeks. Results: Intrascan reproducibility for quantitative measurements of lumen, wall and outer wall areas was excellent with Intraclass Correlation Coefficients >0.98 and measurement errors of 1.5%, 4.5% and 1.9%, respectively. Patients had larger wall areas than volunteers in both common carotid and internal carotid arteries and smaller lumen areas in internal carotid arteries (p < 0.001). Positive correlations were found between wall area and cardiovascular risk factors such as age, hypertension, coronary heart disease and hypercholesterolemia (Spearman's r = 0.45-0.76, p < 0.05). No significant correlations were found between wall area and body mass index, gender, diabetes or a family history of cardiovascular disease. Conclusion: The findings of this study indicate that high resolution carotid black-blood 3 T MR with parallel imaging is a fast, reproducible and robust method to assess carotid atherosclerotic plaque in vivo and this method is ready to be used in clinical practice.