Intracranial 4D flow MRI: toward individualized assessment of arteriovenous malformation hemodynamics and treatment-induced changes

S A Ansari, S Schnell, T Carroll, P Vakil, M C Hurley, C Wu, J Carr, B R Bendok, H Batjer, M Markl
AJNR. American Journal of Neuroradiology 2013, 34 (10): 1922-8

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Arteriovenous malformations are an important etiology of hemorrhagic stroke. However, current imaging modalities and risk do not provide insights into individual AVM hemodynamics and its role in pathophysiology. The aims of this study are to determine whether intracranial 4D flow MR imaging can provide insights into arteriovenous malformation hemodynamics independent of the Spetzler-Martin grade and to report the changes in flow observed during staged embolization.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Intracranial 3D blood flow was assessed in 20 patients with AVM (age = 39 ± 15 years, Spetzler-Martin grade ranging from 1-4) with the use of 4D flow MR imaging (temporal resolution = 45 ms, spatial resolution = [1.2-1.6mm](3)). AVM hemodynamics were visualized by means of time-integrated 3D pathlines depicting the AVM arterial feeding and venous draining patterns over the cardiac cycle. Analysis included the grading of feeding and draining velocities on a 3-point scale (0 = low <25 cm/s, 1 = medium <50 cm/s, 2 = high >50 cm/s). For 4 of 20 patients undergoing 4D flow MR imaging follow-up after staged embolization, peak velocities were quantified in arterial feeders, draining veins, the sagittal sinus, and contralateral arteries.

RESULTS: In 50% of the cases with Spetzler-Martin grade >2, heterogeneous flow (velocity grade differences >1) was found across arteries and veins. Velocities in draining veins increased from Spetzler-Martin grade = 1 (grading = 0.5 ± 0.6) to Spetzler-Martin grade ≥3 (1.1 ± 0.6), whereas arterial velocities were similar (1.7 ± 0.6 versus 1.5 ± 0.6). In the postembolization subgroup of 4 patients, 4D flow MR imaging demonstrated successively more compact AVM and redistribution of velocities. Changes in arterial and venous velocities during treatment were highly different among individuals.

CONCLUSIONS: Spetzler-Martin grade does not reflect differences in 3D AVM arterial and venous hemodynamics, and an individual assessment of AVM hemodynamics may be needed for improved lesion characterization. Four-dimensional flow MR imaging may have the potential to monitor and guide embolization treatment planning.


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