For dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI studies in the human brain, it is useful to measure the venous output function (VOF). The purpose of this work was to explore the feasibility of measuring the VOF using the MR signal phase (in absolute units of gadolinium concentration) in the superior sagittal sinus. Phantom experiments were performed to validate the technique for different superior sagittal sinus angles (theta = 0-48 degrees relative to the main magnetic field), different curvatures (straight or radius = 45 mm), and different spatial resolutions (2.2-5.5 mm, to study partial-volume effects). Additionally, the technique was tested on three patients. The phantom experimental results (echo time = 5.5 ms, theta <or= 21 degrees) agreed with theoretical predictions to within 10%. For the patient studies, the measured VOFs had reasonable amplitude and shape characteristics and the patients' superior sagittal sinus angles (<15 degrees) and curvatures (radii approximately 40 mm) were within the range explored with phantoms. Our results suggest that partial-volume contributions to the VOF will be <5% and that the VOF can be evaluated in vivo to within 10% error. In conclusion, it is highly feasible to use MR signal phase to measure the VOF in the superior sagittal sinus for human dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI.
(c) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.