There is controversy concerning the discrepancy between absolute cerebral blood flow (CBF) values measured using positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). To gain insight into this problem, the increased signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and extended T(1) relaxation times of blood and tissue at 3.0 T were exploited to perform pulsed arterial spin labeling (PASL) MRI measurements as a function of spatial resolution and post-labeling delay. The results indicate that, when using post-labeling delays shorter than 1500 ms, MRI gray matter flow values may become as high as several times the correct CBF values owing to tissue signal contamination by remaining arterial blood water label. For delays above 1500 ms, regional PASL-based CBF values (n = 5; frontal gray matter: 48.8 +/- 3.3(SD) ml/100 g/min; occipital gray matter: 49.3 +/- 4.5 ml/100 g/min) comparable with PET-based measurements can be obtained by using spatial resolutions comparable with PET (5-7.5 mm in-plane). At very high resolution (2.5 x 2.5 x 3 mm(3)), gray matter CBF values were found to increase by 10-20%, a consequence attributed to reduction in partial volume effects with cerebrospinal fluid and white matter. The recent availability of MRI field strengths of 3.0 T and higher will facilitate the use of MRI-based CBF measurements in the clinic.
Copyright (c) 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.