Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic potential of a high resolution MR venography technique in patients with cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVM). A high-resolution 3D gradient echo sequence was used with a long echo time TE to obtain venous information down to sub-pixel sized vessel diameters of several hundred microns. The method is based on the paramagnetic property of deoxyhemoglobin and the resulting developing phase difference between veins and brain parenchyma at long echo times which leads to signal cancellation. The reconstructed venograms were compared with TOF-MR angiography using qualitative and quantitative criteria with the conventional DSA serving as the reference gold standard.
Methods: In 17 patients with angiographically proven cerebral AVM the method indicates its potential in clinical applications. Venography was able to detect all AVM whereas TOF-MRA failed in three patients. In the delineation of venous drainage patterns MR venography was superior to TOF-MRA, however, as expected the method detected only about half of the main feeding arteries. Due to susceptibility artifacts at air/tissue boundaries or interference with paramagnetic hemosiderin, MR venography was limited with respect to the delineation of the exact nidus sizes and shapes in ten patients with AVM located close to the skull base or in patients having suffered from previous bleeding.
Results: Although the visualization of draining veins represents an important prerequisite in the surgical and radiosurgical treatment planning of cerebral AVM, there exist limitations of the technique in regions where strong induced static field inhomogeneities are present.
Conclusions: Due to its high sensitivity the method may be of special importance in the early detection and assessment of small AVM which are difficult to diagnose with other MR methods.