Background: The aim of this study is to investigate the inter-scan reproducibility of kinetic parameters in atherosclerotic plaque using dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) in a multi-center setting at 3T.
Methods: Carotid arteries of 51 subjects from 15 sites were scanned twice within two weeks on 3T scanners using a previously described DCE-CMR protocol. Imaging data with protocol compliance and sufficient image quality were analyzed to generate kinetic parameters of vessel wall, expressed as transfer constant (K trans ) and plasma volume (v p ). The inter-scan reproducibility was evaluated using intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) and coefficient of variation (CV). Power analysis was carried out to provide sample size estimations for future prospective study.
Results: Ten (19.6%) subjects were found to suffer from protocol violation, and another 6 (11.8%) had poor image quality (n=6) in at least one scan. In the 35 (68.6%) subjects with complete data, the ICCs of K trans and v p were 0.65 and 0.28, respectively. The CVs were 25% and 62%, respectively. The ICC and CV for v p improved to 0.73 and 28% in larger lesions with analyzed area larger than 25 mm2. Power analysis based on the measured CV showed that 50 subjects per arm are sufficient to detect a 20% difference in change of K trans over time between treatment arms with 80% power without consideration of the dropout rate.
Conclusion: The result of this study indicates that quantitative measurement from DCE-CMR is feasible to detect changes with a relatively modest sample size in a prospective multi-center study despite the limitations. The relative high dropout rate suggested the critical needs for intensive operator training, optimized imaging protocol, and strict quality control in future studies.