Assessment of carotid stenosis using three-dimensional T2-weighted dark blood imaging: Initial experience

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2012 Feb;35(2):449-55. doi: 10.1002/jmri.22839. Epub 2011 Dec 6.


Purpose: To evaluate the use of a T2-weighted SPACE sequence (T2w-SPACE) to assess carotid stenosis via several methods and compare its performance with contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography (ceMRA).

Materials and methods: Fifteen patients with carotid atherosclerosis underwent dark blood (DB)-MRI using a 3D turbo spin echo with variable flip angles sequence (T2w-SPACE) and ceMRA. Images were coregistered and evaluated by two observers. Comparisons were made for luminal diameter, luminal area, degree of luminal stenosis (NASCET: North American Symptomatic Endarterectomy Trial; ECST: European Carotid Surgery Trial, and area stenosis), and vessel wall area. Degree of NASCET stenosis was clinically classified as mild (<50%), moderate (50%-69%), or severe (>69%).

Results: Excellent agreement was seen between ceMRA and T2w-SPACE and between observers for assessment of lumen diameter, lumen area, vessel wall area, and degree of NASCET stenosis (r > 0.80, P < 0.001). ECST stenosis was consistently higher than NASCET stenosis (48 ± 14% vs. 24 ± 22%, P < 0.001). Area stenosis (72 ± 2%) was significantly higher (P < 0.001) than both ESCT and NASCET stenosis.

Conclusion: DB-MRI of carotid arteries using T2w-SPACE is clinically feasible. It provides accurate measurements of lumen size and degree of stenosis in comparison with ceMRA and offers a more reproducible measure of ECST stenosis than ceMRA.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carotid Stenosis / pathology*
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA