Objective: Arterial spin-labelling (ASL) MRI uses intrinsic blood water to quantify the cerebral blood flow (CBF), removing the need for the injection of a gadolinium-based contrast agent used for conventional perfusion imaging such as dynamic susceptibility contrast (DSC). Owing to the non-invasive nature of the technique, ASL is an attractive option for use in paediatric patients. This work compared DSC and multi-timepoint ASL measures of CBF in paediatric brain tumours.
Methods: Patients (n = 23; 20 low-grade tumours and 3 high-grade tumours) had DSC and multi-timepoint ASL with and without vascular crushers (VC). VC removes the contribution from larger vessel blood flow. Mean perfusion metrics were extracted from control and T1-enhanced tumour regions of interest (ROIs): arterial arrival time (AAT) and CBF from the ASL images with and without VC, relative cerebral blood flow (rCBF), relative cerebral blood volume, delay time (DT) and mean transit time (MTT) from the DSC images.
Results: Significant correlations existed for: AAT and DT (r = 0.77, p = 0.0002) and CBF and rCBF (r = 0.56, p = 0.02) in control ROIs for ASL-noVC. No significant correlations existed between DSC and ASL measures in the tumour region. Significant differences between control and tumour ROI were found for MTT (p < 0.001) and rCBF (p < 0.005) measures.
Conclusion: Significant correlations between ASL-noVC and DSC measures in the normal brain suggest that DSC is most sensitive to macrovascular blood flow. The absence of significant correlations within the tumour ROI suggests that ASL is sensitive to different physiological mechanisms compared with DSC measures.
Advances in knowledge: ASL provides information which is comparable with that of DSC in healthy tissues, but appears to reflect a different physiology in tumour tissues.