JOURNAL ARTICLE

Variable velocity encoding in a three-dimensional, three-directional phase contrast sequence: Evaluation in phantom and volunteers

Anders Nilsson, Karin Markenroth Bloch, Marcus Carlsson, Einar Heiberg, Freddy Ståhlberg
Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging: JMRI 2012, 36 (6): 1450-9
23065951

PURPOSE: To evaluate accuracy and noise properties of a novel time-resolved, three-dimensional, three-directional phase contrast sequence with variable velocity encoding (denoted 4D-vPC) on a 3 Tesla MR system, and to investigate potential benefits and limitations of variable velocity encoding with respect to depicting blood flow patterns.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A 4D PC-MRI sequence was modified to allow variable velocity encoding (VENC) over the cardiac cycle in all three velocity directions independently. 4D-PC sequences with constant and variable VENC were compared in a rotating phantom with respect to measured velocities and noise levels. Additionally, comparison of flow patterns in the ascending aorta was performed in six healthy volunteers.

RESULTS: Phantom measurements showed a linear relationship between velocity noise and velocity encoding. 4D-vPC MRI presented lower noise levels than 4D-PC both in phantom and in volunteer measurements, in agreement with theory. Volunteer comparisons revealed more consistent and detailed flow patterns in early diastole for the variable VENC sequences.

CONCLUSION: Variable velocity encoding offers reduced noise levels compared with sequences with constant velocity encoding by optimizing the velocity-to-noise ratio (VNR) to the hemodynamic properties of the imaged area. Increased VNR ratios could be beneficial for blood flow visualizations of pathology in the cardiac cycle.

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