A major potential confound in axial 3D dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging studies is the blood inflow effect; therefore, the choice of slice location for arterial input function measurement within the imaging volume must be considered carefully. The objective of this study was to use computer simulations, flow phantom, and in vivo studies to describe and understand the effect of blood inflow on the measurement of the arterial input function. All experiments were done at 1.5 T using a typical 3D dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging sequence, and arterial input functions were extracted for each slice in the imaging volume. We simulated a set of arterial input functions based on the same imaging parameters and accounted for blood inflow and radiofrequency field inhomogeneities. Measured arterial input functions along the vessel length from both in vivo and the flow phantom agreed with simulated arterial input functions and show large overestimations in the arterial input function in the first 30 mm of the vessel, whereas arterial input functions measured more centrally achieve accurate contrast agent concentrations. Use of inflow-affected arterial input functions in tracer kinetic modeling shows potential errors of up to 80% in tissue microvascular parameters. These errors emphasize the importance of careful placement of the arterial input function definition location to avoid the effects of blood inflow.
© 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.