In this study, a method is proposed for MRI of the lumen of metallic vascular implants, like stents or vena cava filters. The method is based on the reduction of artifacts caused by flow, susceptibility, and RF eddy currents. Whereas both flow artifacts and susceptibility artifacts are well understood and documented, RF artifacts are not. Therefore, the present study comprises an in-depth theoretical explanation of the factors governing the severity of these RF artifacts. It is explained that the RF caging inside cage-like implants is caused by disturbances of the send and receive sensitivities due to coupling between the loops in the implant and the MR scanner's send and receive coils. A scaled excitation angle model describing the behavior of the signal intensity inside the implants as a function of the applied nominal excitation angle is introduced. This theoretical model was validated in phantom experiments. Reduced signal from within implants due to the caging problem could be restored by increasing the applied RF power in the excitation pulse, without exceeding the generally accepted SAR safety limits. The method was tested in vitro and in vivo in a pig model and allowed adequate depiction of the interior of a nitinol stent and that of a vena cava filter in contrast-enhanced MR angiograms. Magn Reson Med 47:171-180, 2002.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.