RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES. The authors compare the effectiveness of various magnetic resonance (MR) angiography acquisition strategies in enhancing the visibility of small intracranial vessels. METHODS. Blood vessel contrast-to- noise ratio (CNR) in time-of-flight MR angiography was studied as a function of vessel size and several selectable imaging parameters. Contrast-to-noise measurements were made on 257 vessel segments ranging in size from 0.3 mm to 4.2 mm in patients who recently had undergone intraarterial cerebral angiography. Imaging parameters studied included magnetization transfer, spatially variable radio frequency (RF) pulse profile (ramped RF), and imaging slab thickness. RESULTS. The combination of thin slabs (16 slices/slab), ramped RF, and magnetization transfer resulted in the highest CNR for all but the smallest vessel sizes. The smallest vessels (< 0.5 mm) had the highest CNR, using the thick slab (64 slices/slab) with ramped RF and magnetization transfer. Magnetization transfer always improved vessel CNR, but the improvement diminished as the slab thickness was reduced. The CNR increased with a decrease in slab thickness for all but the smallest vessel sizes. CONCLUSIONS. Overall, the results provide a quantitative demonstration that inflow enhancement of blood is reduced for small vessels. Thus, whereas magnetization transfer is important at all vessel sizes, it becomes the primary factor in improving the visibility of the smallest vessels.
- magnetic resonance angiography
- Magnetization transfer
- ramped radio frequency
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology