RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, NON-P.H.S.
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Steady-state free precession MRA of the renal arteries: breath-hold and navigator-gated techniques vs. CE-MRA.

PURPOSE: To explore the use of breath-hold and navigator-gated noncontrast Steady State Free Precession (SSFP) MR angiography (MRA) protocols for the evaluation of renal artery stenosis (RAS).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty patients referred to rule out RAS were imaged using two breath-hold and one navigator-gated SSFP MRA sequences. All patients underwent contrast-enhanced MRA (CE-MRA). Two radiologists evaluated all sequences both qualitatively (blur, artifacts, reader confidence) and quantitatively (maximum stenosis). Using CE-MRA as truth, a receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve was generated and a statistical analysis of navigator-gated SSFP (Nav SSFP) was performed.

RESULTS: Seven patients had >50% renal artery stenosis by CE-MRA. Nav SSFP performed significantly better than either breath-hold SSFP technique in terms of blur, artifacts, and reader confidence. Using a 50% threshold for stenosis, sensitivity for detecting RAS was 100%, with a specificity of 85% and a negative predictive value of 100%. The average mean stenosis difference between Nav SSFP and CE-MRA was 9 +/- 9%.

CONCLUSION: Nav SSFP outperformed breath-hold SSFP in measures of image quality and reader confidence. Sensitivity and negative predictive value for detecting RAS with Nav SSFP was perfect, with an acceptable specificity of 85%. This suggests further study is warranted to evaluate Nav SSFP as a noncontrast screening technique for renal artery stenosis.

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