A simultaneous noncontrast angiography and intraplaque hemorrhage (SNAP) MR imaging technique is proposed to detect both luminal stenosis and hemorrhage in atherosclerosis patients in a single scan. Thirteen patients with diagnosed carotid atherosclerotic plaque were admitted after informed consent. All scans were performed on a 3T MR imaging system with SNAP, 2D time-of-flight and magnetization-prepared 3D rapid acquisition gradient echo sequences. The SNAP sequence utilized a phase sensitive acquisition, and was designed to provide positive signals corresponding to intraplaque hemorrhage and negative signals corresponding to lumen. SNAP images were compared to time-of-flight images to evaluate lumen size measurements using linear mixed models and the intraclass correlation coefficient. Intraplaque hemorrhage identification accuracy was evaluated by comparing to magnetization-prepared 3D rapid acquisition gradient echo images using Cohen's Kappa. Diagnostic quality SNAP images were generated from all subjects. Quantitatively, the lumen size measurements by SNAP were strongly correlated (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.96, P < 0.001) with those measured by time-of-flight. For intraplaque hemorrhage detection, strong agreement (κ = 0.82, P < 0.001) was also identified between SNAP and magnetization-prepared 3D rapid acquisition gradient echo images. In conclusion, a SNAP imaging technique was proposed and shows great promise for imaging both lumen size and carotid intraplaque hemorrhage with a single scan.
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