Although perfusion is of major interest for many spinal cord disorders, there is no established, reproducible technique for evaluating blood flow or blood volume of the spinal cord in humans. Here the first report of in vivo measurement of human spinal cord blood volume (scBV) is presented. An FDA-approved contrast agent, Gd-DTPA, was used as an intravascular agent for the cord parenchyma, and pre-/post-contrast vascular-space-occupancy (VASO) MRI experiments were performed to obtain a quantitative estimation of scBV in mL blood/100 mL tissue. VASO MRI was used because it does not rely on knowledge of an arterial input function, it avoids the imaging artifacts of single-shot echo planar imaging approaches, and it requires only relatively simple and direct calculations for scBV quantification. Preliminary tests at 1.5 T and 3 T gave mean +/- SD scBV values of 4.3 +/- 0.7 ml/100 mL tissue (n = 6) and 4.4 +/- 0.7 ml/100 mL tissue (n = 4), respectively, consistent with the expectation that the scBV values would not be field-dependent.
Copyright (c) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.