Purpose: To investigate the ability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualize the carotid vessel wall using a phased-array coil and a black-blood (BB) fast spin-echo (FSE) sequence.
Materials and methods: The phased-array coil was compared with a three-inch coil. Images from volunteers were evaluated for artifacts, wall layers, and wall signal intensity. Signal intensity and homogeneity of atherosclerosis were assessed. Lumen diameter and vessel area were measured.
Results: Comparison between the phased-array coil and the three-inch coil showed a 100% increase in signal-to-noise ratio. BB-FSE imaging resulted in good delineation between blood and vessel wall. Most volunteers had a two-layered vessel wall with a hyperintense inner layer. MRI showed both homogeneous hyperintense and heterogeneous plaques, which consisted of a main hyperintense part with hypointense spots and/or intermediate regions. MRI lumen and area measurements were performed easily.
Conclusion: High resolution MRI of carotid atherosclerosis is feasible with a phased-array coil and a BB-FSE sequence.