Blood Flow Velocity Pulsatility and Arterial Diameter Pulsatility Measurements of the Intracranial Arteries Using 4D PC-MRI

van Hespen, Kees M, Kuijf, Hugo J, Hendrikse, Jeroen, Luijten, Peter R, Zwanenburg, Jaco J M




4D phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging (PC-MRI) allows for the visualization and quantification of the cerebral blood flow. A drawback of software that is used to quantify the cerebral blood flow is that it oftentimes assumes a static arterial luminal area over the cardiac cycle. Quantifying the lumen area pulsatility index (aPI), i.e. the change in lumen area due to an increase in distending pressure over the cardiac cycle, can provide insight in the stiffness of the arteries. Arterial stiffness has received increased attention as a predictor in the development of cerebrovascular disease. In this study, we introduce software that allows for measurement of the aPI as well as the blood flow velocity pulsatility index (vPI) from 4D PC-MRI. The internal carotid arteries of seven volunteers were imaged using 7 T MRI. The aPI and vPI measurements from 4D PC-MRI were validated against measurements from 2D PC-MRI at two levels of the internal carotid arteries (C3 and C7). The aPI and vPI computed from 4D PC-MRI were comparable to those measured from 2D PC-MRI (aPI: mean difference: 0.03 (limits of agreement: -0.14 - 0.23); vPI: 0.03 (-0.17-0.23)). The measured blood flow rate for the C3 and C7 segments was similar, indicating that our proposed software correctly captures the variation in arterial lumen area and blood flow velocity that exists along the distal end of the carotid artery. Our software may potentially aid in identifying changes in arterial stiffness of the intracranial arteries caused by pathological changes to the vessel wall.