Purpose: To assess quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) for reducing the inconsistency of standard magnetic resonance (MR) imaging sequences in measurements of cerebral microbleed burden.
Materials and methods: This retrospective study was HIPAA compliant and institutional review board approved. Ten patients (5.6%) were selected from among 178 consecutive patients suspected of having experienced a stroke who were imaged with a multiecho gradient-echo sequence at 3.0 T and who had cerebral microbleeds on T2*-weighted images. QSM was performed for various ranges of echo time by using both the magnitude and phase components in the morphology-enabled dipole inversion method. Cerebral microbleed size was measured by two neuroradiologists on QSM images, T2*-weighted images, susceptibility-weighted (SW) images, and R2* maps calculated by using different echo times. The sum of susceptibility over a region containing a cerebral microbleed was also estimated on QSM images as its total susceptibility. Measurement differences were assessed by using the Student t test and the F test; P < .05 was considered to indicate a statistically significant difference.
Results: When echo time was increased from approximately 20 to 40 msec, the measured cerebral microbleed volume increased by mean factors of 1.49 ± 0.86 (standard deviation), 1.64 ± 0.84, 2.30 ± 1.20, and 2.30 ± 1.19 for QSM, R2*, T2*-weighted, and SW images, respectively (P < .01). However, the measured total susceptibility with QSM did not show significant change over echo time (P = .31), and the variation was significantly smaller than any of the volume increases (P < .01 for each).
Conclusion: The total susceptibility of a cerebral microbleed measured by using QSM is a physical property that is independent of echo time.
© RSNA, 2011.