Objective: An analysis of thoracic aortic blood flow in normal subjects and patients with aortic pathologic findings is presented. Various visualization tools were used to analyze blood flow patterns within a single 3-component velocity volumetric acquisition of the entire thoracic aorta
Methods: Time-resolved, 3-dimensional phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging (3D CINE PC MRI) was employed to obtain complete spatial and temporal coverage of the entire thoracic aorta combined with spatially registered 3-directional pulsatile blood flow velocities. Three-dimensional visualization tools, including time-resolved velocity vector fields reformatted to arbitrary 2-dimensional cut planes, 3D streamlines, and time-resolved 3D particle traces, were applied in a study with 10 normal volunteers. Results from 4 patient examinations with similar scan prescriptions to those of the volunteer scans are presented to illustrate flow features associated with common pathologic findings in the thoracic aorta.
Results: Previously reported blood flow patterns in the thoracic aorta, including right-handed helical outflow, late systolic retrograde flow, and accelerated passage through the aortic valve plane, were visualized in all volunteers. The effects of thoracic aortic disease on spatial and temporal blood flow patterns are illustrated in clinical cases, including ascending aortic aneurysms, aortic regurgitation, and aortic dissection.
Conclusion: Time-resolved 3D velocity mapping was successfully applied in a study of 10 healthy volunteers and 4 patients with documented aortic pathologic findings and has proven to be a reliable tool for analysis and visualization of normal characteristic as well as pathologic flow features within the entire thoracic aorta.