Objectives: To investigate the reproducibility of arterial spin labelling (ASL) and dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and quantitatively compare these techniques for the measurement of renal blood flow (RBF).
Methods: Sixteen healthy volunteers were examined on two different occasions. ASL was performed using a multi-TI FAIR labelling scheme with a segmented 3D-GRASE imaging module. DCE MRI was performed using a 3D-FLASH pulse sequence. A Bland-Altman analysis was used to assess repeatability of each technique, and determine the degree of correspondence between the two methods.
Results: The overall mean cortical renal blood flow (RBF) of the ASL group was 263 ± 41 ml min(-1) [100 ml tissue](-1), and using DCE MRI was 287 ± 70 ml min(-1) [100 ml tissue](-1). The group coefficient of variation (CVg) was 18 % for ASL and 28 % for DCE-MRI. Repeatability studies showed that ASL was more reproducible than DCE with CVgs of 16 % and 25 % for ASL and DCE respectively. Bland-Altman analysis comparing the two techniques showed a good agreement.
Conclusions: The repeated measures analysis shows that the ASL technique has better reproducibility than DCE-MRI. Difference analysis shows no significant difference between the RBF values of the two techniques.
Key points: Reliable non-invasive monitoring of renal blood flow is currently clinically unavailable. Renal arterial spin labelling MRI is robust and repeatable. Renal dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI is robust and repeatable. ASL blood flow values are similar to those obtained using DCE-MRI.