Object: The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of complex intraaneurysmal flow visualization with the currently available phase-contrast magnetic resonance (MR) imaging modality.
Methods: A geometrically realistic in vitro aneurysm model, in which detailed flow velocity analysis had already been conducted using laser Doppler velocimetry was used for this in vitro hemodynamic simulation, so that the results of phase-contrast velocity measurements could be compared with the previous reliable results. On a 1.5-tesla unit, three orthogonal components of velocity were obtained using a standard two-dimensional fast low-angle shot flow quantification sequence. Three-dimensional (3D) intraaneurysmal flow structures recorded during one cardiac cycle were depicted in one midsagittal and three axial cross-sectional planes with the aid of gray scale phase-contrast velocity maps. Isovelocity contour maps and secondary flow vectors were also created based on the phase-contrast velocity maps by using MATLAB software. The isovelocity contours in those three axial sections could demonstrate the shapes of inward and outward flow areas and their alternation over one cardiac cycle. The secondary flow vectors demonstrated twin vortices within the outward flow area adjacent to the boundary layer of inward and outward flow in all axial planes.
Conclusions: The phase-contrast MR imaging method was able to depict the complex 3D intraaneurysmal flow structures in the in vitro aneurysm model. Detailed 3D intraaneurysmal flow information will be obtainable in vivo after improvements are made in spatial resolution, which is expected in the near future. The capability to visualize intraaneurysmal flow structures directly with the use of noninvasive MR imaging technology will have a positive impact on future clinical practice.