Renal artery stenosis: comparative assessment by unenhanced renal artery MRA versus contrast-enhanced MRA

Michael M Y Khoo, Dhafer Deeab, Wladyslaw M W Gedroyc, Neil Duncan, David Taube, Elizabeth A Dick
European Radiology 2011, 21 (7): 1470-6

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate steady-state free precession (SSFP) non-contrast-enhanced MR angiography (Unenhanced-MRA) versus conventional contrast-enhanced MR angiography (CE-MRA) in the detection of renal artery stenosis (RAS).

METHODS: Retrospective analysis of 70 consecutive patients referred for suspected RAS, examined by SSFP Unenhanced-MRA and CE-MRA. Image quality, quality of visible renal arterial segments, presence and grade of RAS were evaluated. The Unenhanced-MRA were compared against reference standard CE-MRA results.

RESULTS: 149 renal arteries were assessed with 21 haemodynamically significant stenoses (≥ 50% stenosis) demonstrated by CE-MRA. Combined sensitivity and specificity for RAS detection by Unenhanced-MRA was 72.8% and 97.8% respectively. There is substantial correlation for RAS detection between Unenhanced-MRA and CE-MRA with kappa values of between 0.64 and 0.74. There was excellent inter-observer correlation for RAS on Unenhanced-MRA (kappa values 0.82-1.0).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study has shown Unenhanced-MRA to be a viable alternative to CE-MRA, yielding images equal in quality without the requirement for gadolinium contrast agents. The sensitivity and specificity for the detection of haemodynamically significant stenoses are comparable to CE-MRA. Potentially, Unenhanced-MRA could be used as an initial investigation to avoid performing CE-MRA in patients with normal renal arteries, however we suggest that its real value will lie in being complementary to CE-MRA.

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