Purpose: To demonstrate the feasibility of a four-dimensional phase contrast (PC) technique that permits spatial and temporal coverage of an entire three-dimensional volume, to quantitatively validate its accuracy against an established time resolved two-dimensional PC technique to explore advantages of the approach with regard to the four-dimensional nature of the data.
Materials and methods: Time-resolved, three-dimensional anatomical images were generated simultaneously with registered three-directional velocity vector fields. Improvements compared to prior methods include retrospectively gated and respiratory compensated image acquisition, interleaved flow encoding with freely selectable velocity encoding (venc) along each spatial direction, and flexible trade-off between temporal resolution and total acquisition time.
Results: The implementation was validated against established two-dimensional PC techniques using a well-defined phantom, and successfully applied in volunteer and patient examinations. Human studies were performed after contrast administration in order to compensate for loss of in-flow enhancement in the four-dimensional approach.
Conclusion: Advantages of the four-dimensional approach include the complete spatial and temporal coverage of the cardiovascular region of interest and the ability to obtain high spatial resolution in all three dimensions with higher signal-to-noise ratio compared to two-dimensional methods at the same resolution. In addition, the four-dimensional nature of the data offers a variety of image processing options, such as magnitude and velocity multi-planar reformation, three-directional vector field plots, and velocity profiles mapped onto selected planes of interest.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.