Peak contrast enhancement in CT and MR angiography: when does it occur and why? Pharmacokinetic study in a porcine model

Radiology. 2003 Jun;227(3):809-16. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2273020102. Epub 2003 Apr 17.


Purpose: To investigate pharmacokinetic and physiologic factors that determine the time to peak intravenous contrast medium enhancement in computed tomographic (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) angiography in the porcine mid-abdominal aorta.

Materials and methods: Four pigs were imaged repeatedly in seven to eight sets: For each set, 20 dynamic CT scans were obtained at a fixed aortic level after intravenous injection of contrast medium. From a physiologically based compartment model, aortic contrast enhancement curves were generated by varying contrast medium injection duration from 1 to 40 seconds. Contrast enhancement curves and times to peak aortic enhancement from the experiment and model were compared. Time to peak aortic enhancement obtained from the injection with the shortest duration was considered the time to peak test bolus contrast enhancement. Mathematic and pharmacokinetic analyses were performed to investigate factors that determine peak enhancement.

Results: Empiric and compartmental model times to peak aortic enhancement were in good agreement. Time to peak aortic enhancement corresponded to the weighted sum of injection duration and time to peak test bolus enhancement. With increasing injection duration, the relative contribution of injection duration to peak aortic enhancement time increased. When injection duration was longer than time to peak test bolus enhancement, time to peak aortic enhancement increased linearly with injection duration and occurred shortly after completion of injection. However, when injection duration was shorter than time to peak test bolus enhancement, time to peak aortic enhancement was determined predominantly by time to peak test bolus enhancement and only gradually increased with injection duration.

Conclusion: Time to peak aortic enhancement is determined by the relative contributions of injection duration and contrast medium traveling time and may well be explained by contrast medium volumetric inflow and recirculation physiology.

MeSH terms

  • Angiography
  • Animals
  • Aorta, Abdominal / anatomy & histology
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Contrast Media / pharmacokinetics*
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Iothalamate Meglumine / administration & dosage
  • Iothalamate Meglumine / pharmacokinetics
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography*
  • Swine
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Contrast Media
  • Iothalamate Meglumine