In vivo quantification of contrast agent concentration using the induced magnetic field for time-resolved arterial input function measurement with MRI

Med Phys. 2008 Dec;35(12):5328-39. doi: 10.1118/1.3002309.


For pharmacokinetic modeling of tissue physiology, there is great interest in measuring the arterial input function (AIF) from dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using paramagnetic contrast agents. Due to relaxation effects, the measured signal is a nonlinear function of the injected contrast agent concentration and depends on sequence parameters, system calibration, and time-of-flight effects, making it difficult to accurately measure the AIF during the first pass. Paramagnetic contrast agents also affect susceptibility and modify the magnetic field in proportion to their concentration. This information is contained in the MR signal phase which is discarded in a typical image reconstruction. However, quantifying AIF through contrast agent susceptibility induced phase changes is made difficult by the fact that the induced magnetic field is nonlocal and depends upon the contrast agent spatial distribution and thus on organ and vessel shapes. In this article, the contrast agent susceptibility was quantified through inversion of magnetic field shifts using a piece-wise constant model. Its feasibility is demonstrated by a determination of the AIF from the susceptibility-induced field changes of an intravenous bolus. After in vitro validation, a time-resolved two-dimensional (2D) gradient echo scan, triggered to diastole, was performed in vivo on the aortic arch during a bolus injection of 0.1 mmol/kg Gd-DTPA. An approximate geometrical model of the aortic arch constructed from the magnitude images was used to calculate the spatial variation of the field associated with the bolus. In 14 subjects, Gd concentration curves were measured dynamically (one measurement per heart beat) and indirectly validated by independent 2D cine phase contrast flow rate measurements. Flow rate measurements using indicator conservation with this novel quantitative susceptibility imaging technique were found to be in good agreement with those obtained from the cine phase contrast measurements in all subjects. Contrary to techniques that rely on intensity, the accuracy of this signal phase based method is insensitive to factors influencing signal intensity such as flip angle, coil sensitivity, relaxation changes, and time-of-flight effects extending the range of pulse sequences and contrast doses for which quantitative DCE-MRI can be applied.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Angiography / methods*
  • Arteries / pathology*
  • Contrast Media / pharmacology*
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Female
  • Gadolinium / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium