High-resolution intracranial vessel wall MRI in an elderly asymptomatic population: comparison of 3T and 7T

Harteveld, Anita A, van der Kolk, Anja G, van der Worp, HB, Dieleman, Nikki, Siero, JCW, Kuijf, Hugo J, Frijns, CJM, Luijten, Peter R, Zwanenburg, Jaco J M, Hendrikse, J


European Radiology 27 (4), p. 1585–1595


OBJECTIVES: Several intracranial vessel wall sequences have been described in recent literature, with either 3-T or 7-T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In the current study, we compared 3-T and 7-T MRI in visualising both the intracranial arterial vessel wall and vessel wall lesions.

METHODS: Twenty-one elderly asymptomatic volunteers were scanned by 3-T and 7-T MRI with an intracranial vessel wall sequence, both before and after contrast administration. Two raters scored image quality, and presence and characteristics of vessel wall lesions.

RESULTS: Vessel wall visibility was equal or significantly better at 7 T for the studied arterial segments, even though there were more artefacts hampering assessment. The better visualisation of the vessel wall at 7 T was most prominent in the proximal anterior cerebral circulation and the posterior cerebral artery. In the studied elderly asymptomatic population, 48 vessel-wall lesions were identified at 3 T, of which 7 showed enhancement. At 7 T, 79 lesions were identified, of which 29 showed enhancement. Seventy-one percent of all 3-T lesions and 59 % of all 7-T lesions were also seen at the other field strength.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the large variability in detected lesions at both field strengths, we believe 7-T MRI has the highest potential to identify the total burden of intracranial vessel wall lesions.

KEY POINTS: • Intracranial vessel wall visibility was equal or significantly better at 7-T MRI • Most vessel wall lesions in the cerebral arteries were found at 7-T MRI • Many intracranial vessel wall lesions showed enhancement after contrast administration • Large variability in detected intracranial vessel wall lesions at both field strengths • Seven-tesla MRI has the highest potential to identify total burden of intracranial atherosclerosis.