Objectives: Intracranial vessel wall magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may improve the diagnosis of vessel wall abnormalities. Current methods are hampered by limited coverage and few contrast weightings. We present a multi-sequence protocol with whole-brain coverage for vessel wall imaging on 7.0-T MRI.
Methods: A modified magnetisation-preparation inversion recovery turbo-spin-echo (MPIR-TSE) sequence was used to obtain proton density (PD)-, T1-, and T2-weighting with 190-mm whole-brain coverage. Three observers independently scored the visibility of arterial vessel walls in five healthy volunteers, and compared the conspicuity and image contrast of all sequences. Clinical applicability was demonstrated in 17 patients with cerebrovascular disease.
Results: Conspicuity was good for all acquisitions, with best scores for the original limited-coverage sequence, followed by whole-brain coverage T2-, PD- and T1-weighted sequences, respectively. Mean vessel wall/background MR signal intensity ratios for all whole-brain sequences were similar, with higher scores for the limited-coverage MPIR-TSE sequence. Signal intensity ratios were highest in patients, for the whole-brain T1-weighted sequence.
Conclusions: The whole-brain multi-sequence vessel wall protocol can assess intracranial arterial vessel walls with full brain coverage, for different image contrast weightings. These sequences could eventually characterise intracranial vessel wall abnormalities similar to current techniques for assessing carotid artery plaques.
Key points: - Intracranial vessel wall imaging using MRI improves diagnosis of cerebrovascular diseases. - Conventional 7-T MRI sequences cannot image the whole cerebral arterial tree. - New whole-brain 7-T MRI sequences compare favourably with smaller-coverage sequences. - These whole-brain sequences can demonstrate the entire cerebral arterial tree. - These sequences should help in the diagnosis of vessel wall abnormalities.