Visualizing three-dimensional flow with simulated streamlines and three-dimensional phase-contrast MR imaging

J Magn Reson Imaging. Mar-Apr 1992;2(2):143-53. doi: 10.1002/jmri.1880020206.


Three-dimensional (3D) velocity maps acquired with 3D phase-contrast magnetic resonance (MR) imaging contain information regarding complex motions that occur during imaging. A technique called simulated streamlines, which facilitates the display and comprehension of these velocity data, is presented. Single or multiple seed points may be identified within blood vessels of interest and tracked through the velocity field. The resulting trajectories are combined with a 3D MR angiogram and displayed with 3D volume visualization software. Mathematical analysis highlights potential applications and pitfalls of the technique, which was implemented both in phantoms and in vivo with excellent results. For example, single streamlines reveal helical flow patterns in aneurysms, and multiple streamlines seeded in the common carotid artery reveal branch filling-time relationships and slow filling of the carotid bulb. The technique is helpful in understanding these complex flow patterns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Flow Velocity*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Models, Structural