Assessment of pulmonary artery stiffness using velocity-encoding magnetic resonance imaging: evaluation of techniques

Magn Reson Imaging. 2011 Sep;29(7):966-74. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2011.04.012. Epub 2011 Jun 8.


The loss of pulmonary artery (PA) compliance has significant pathophysiological effect on the right ventricle. Noninvasive and reliable assessment of PA wall stiffness would be an essential determiner of right heart load and a clinically useful factor to assess cardiovascular risk. Two MRI techniques have been proposed for assessing PA stiffness by measuring pulse wave velocity (PWV): transit time (TT) and flow area (QA). However, no data are available that compares the two techniques and evaluates their performance, especially over a wide range of PWV values or at 3.0-T, which is the purpose of the present study. Thirty-three patients with different heart conditions were imaged using optimized high-temporal resolution and high-spatial resolution velocity-encoding MRI sequences. Statistical analysis was conducted to study intermethod, interobserver and intraobserver variabilities. The PWV measurements using TT and QA techniques showed good agreement (P>0.1). The Bland-Altman analysis showed negligible differences between the two methods (mean±S.D.=0.11±0.35 m/s, correlation coefficient r=0.94). The repeated measurements showed low interobserver and intraobserver variabilities, although the S.D. of the differences was larger in the QA technique. The mean±S.D. of the TT/QA measurement differences were -0.05±0.2/0.0±0.36 m/s and 0.02±0.26/0.02±0.39 m/s for the interobserver and intraobserver differences, respectively. In conclusion, each technique has its own advantages and disadvantages. The two techniques result in similar measurements, although the QA method is more subjective due to its dependency on operator intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Female
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis
  • Lung Diseases / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Pulmonary Artery / pathology*
  • Pulsatile Flow
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Time Factors
  • Vascular Stiffness*