Objectives: Several intracranial vessel wall sequences have been described in recent literature, with either 3-T or 7-T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In the current study, we compared 3-T and 7-T MRI in visualising both the intracranial arterial vessel wall and vessel wall lesions.
Methods: Twenty-one elderly asymptomatic volunteers were scanned by 3-T and 7-T MRI with an intracranial vessel wall sequence, both before and after contrast administration. Two raters scored image quality, and presence and characteristics of vessel wall lesions.
Results: Vessel wall visibility was equal or significantly better at 7 T for the studied arterial segments, even though there were more artefacts hampering assessment. The better visualisation of the vessel wall at 7 T was most prominent in the proximal anterior cerebral circulation and the posterior cerebral artery. In the studied elderly asymptomatic population, 48 vessel-wall lesions were identified at 3 T, of which 7 showed enhancement. At 7 T, 79 lesions were identified, of which 29 showed enhancement. Seventy-one percent of all 3-T lesions and 59 % of all 7-T lesions were also seen at the other field strength.
Conclusions: Despite the large variability in detected lesions at both field strengths, we believe 7-T MRI has the highest potential to identify the total burden of intracranial vessel wall lesions.
Key points: • Intracranial vessel wall visibility was equal or significantly better at 7-T MRI • Most vessel wall lesions in the cerebral arteries were found at 7-T MRI • Many intracranial vessel wall lesions showed enhancement after contrast administration • Large variability in detected intracranial vessel wall lesions at both field strengths • Seven-tesla MRI has the highest potential to identify total burden of intracranial atherosclerosis.
Keywords: Cerebral arteries; Cerebrovascular disorders; Intracranial atherosclerosis; Magnetic resonance imaging; Neuroimaging.