Purpose: To evaluate signal intensity changes influencing assessment of stent patency at contrast material-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) angiography.
Materials and methods: By using an in vitro model, 14 stents-nine nitinol, one tantalum, two stainless steel, and two cobalt alloy-were investigated regarding their appearance at MR imaging. A vascular phantom consisting of tubes filled with 2.00 mmol/L gadopentetate dimeglumine in saline solution was studied in different orientations within the magnetic field. Imaging was performed with a fast three-dimensional gradient-echo sequence (4. 70/1.89 [repetition time msec/echo time msec]). Relative signal intensity reduction within the stents and the degree of artificial narrowing of the stent lumen were calculated.
Results: The stent lumen was visible within 13 stents. A total signal void inside the stent lumen appeared in only one cobalt alloy stent. Artificial narrowing of the diameter was less than 33% in 10 of 14 stents. The tantalum stent and four nitinol stents seemed best suited for contrast-enhanced MR angiography. A bandlike artifact occurred at the ends of the stents when positioned along the readout direction.
Conclusion: To differentiate between artifacts and stenoses, knowledge of the degree of signal intensity reduction and artificial lumen narrowing within vascular stents is essential. Stent geometry, relative orientation to the magnetic field, and alloy composition influence signal intensity alteration within the stent lumen.