Measuring aortic diameter with different MR techniques: comparison of three-dimensional (3D) navigated steady-state free-precession (SSFP), 3D contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography (CE-MRA), 2D T2 black blood, and 2D cine SSFP

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2010 Jan;31(1):177-84. doi: 10.1002/jmri.22016.


Purpose: To compare nongated three-dimensional (3D) contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography (CE-MRA) with 3D-navigated cardiac-gated steady-state free-precession bright blood (3D-nav SSFP) and noncontrast 2D techniques for ascending aorta dimension measurements.

Materials and methods: Twenty-five clinical exams were reviewed to evaluate the ascending aorta at 1.5T using: breathhold cine bright blood (SSFP), cardiac-triggered T2 black blood (T2 BB), axial 3D-nav SSFP, and nongated 3D CE-MRA. Three radiologists independently measured aortic size at three specified locations for each sequence. Means, SDs, interobserver correlation, and vessel edge sharpness were statistically evaluated.

Results: Measurements were greatest for 3D-nav SSFP and 3D CE-MRA and smallest for T2 BB. There was no significant difference between 3D-nav SSFP and 3D CE-MRA (P = 0.43-0.86), but significance was observed comparing T2 BB to all sequences. Interobserver agreement was uniformly >0.9, with T2 BB best, followed closely by 3D-nav SSFP and 2D cine SSFP, and 3D CE-MRA being the worst. Edge sharpness was significantly poorer for 3D CE-MRA compared to the other sequences (P < 0.001).

Conclusion: If diameter measurements are the main clinical concern, 3D-nav SSFP appears to be the best choice, as it has a sharp edge profile, is easy to acquire and postprocess, and shows very good interobserver correlation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms*
  • Anatomy, Cross-Sectional / methods*
  • Aorta, Thoracic / anatomy & histology*
  • Child
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Young Adult


  • Contrast Media