Background: To introduce a new, efficient method for vessel-wall imaging of carotid and peripheral arteries by means of a flow-sensitive 3D water-selective SSFP-echo pulse sequence. Methods. Periodic applications of RF pulses will generate two transverse steady states, immediately after and before an RF pulse; the latter being referred to as the SSFP-echo. The SSFP-echo signal for water protons in blood is spoiled as a result of moving spins losing phase coherence in the presence of a gradient pulse along the flow direction. Bloch equation simulations were performed over a wide range of velocities to evaluate the flow sensitivity of the SSFP-echo signal. Vessel walls of carotid and femoral and popliteal arteries were imaged at 3 T. In two patients with peripheral artery disease the femoral arteries were imaged bilaterally to demonstrate method's potential to visualize atherosclerotic plaques. The method was also evaluated as a means to measure femoral artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) in response to cuff-induced ischemia in four subjects. Results: The SSFP-echo pulse sequence, which does not have a dedicated blood signal suppression preparation, achieved low blood signal permitting discrimination of the carotid and peripheral arterial walls with in-plane spatial resolution ranging from 0.5 to 0.69 mm and slice thickness of 2 to 3 mm, i.e. comparable to conventional 2D vessel-wall imaging techniques. The results of the simulations were in good agreement with analytical solution and observations for both vascular territories examined. Scan time ranged from 2.5 to 5 s per slice yielding a contrast-to-noise ratio between the vessel wall and lumen from 3.5 to 17. Mean femoral FMD in the four subjects was 9%, in good qualitative agreement with literature values. Conclusions: Water-selective 3D SSFP-echo pulse sequence is a potential alternative to 2D vessel-wall imaging. The proposed method is fast, robust, applicable to a wide range of flow velocities, and straightforward to implement.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine