Purpose: To determine if 2D single-shot interleaved multislice inner volume diffusion-weighted echo planar imaging (ss-IMIV-DWEPI) can be used to obtain quantitative diffusion measurements that can assist in the identification of plaque components in the cervical carotid artery.
Materials and methods: The 2D ss-DWEPI sequence was combined with interleaved multislice inner volume region localization to obtain diffusion weighted images with 1 mm in-plane resolution and 2 mm slice thickness. Eleven subjects, six of whom have carotid plaque, were studied with this technique. The apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) images were calculated using DW images with b = 10 s/mm(2) and b = 300 s/mm(2).
Results: The mean ADC measurement in normal vessel wall of the 11 subjects was 1.28 +/- 0.09 x 10(-3) mm(2)/s. Six of the 11 subjects had carotid plaque and ADC measurements in plaque ranged from 0.29 to 0.87 x 10(-3) mm(2)/s. Of the 11 common carotid artery walls studied (33 images), at least partial visualization of the wall was obtained in all ADC images, more than 50% visualization in 82% (27/33 images), and full visualization in 18% (6/33 images).
Conclusion: 2D ss-IMIV-DWEPI can perform diffusion-weighted carotid magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in vivo with reasonably high spatial resolution (1 x 1 x 2 mm(3)). ADC values of the carotid wall and plaque are consistent with similar values obtained from ex vivo endarterectomy specimens. The spread in ADC values obtained from plaque indicate that this technique could form a basis for plaque component identification in conjunction with other MRI/MRA techniques.