Purpose: Variability across devices, patients, and time still hinders widespread recognition of dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) as quantitative biomarker. The purpose of this work was to introduce and characterize a dedicated microchannel phantom as a model for quantitative DCE-MRI measurements.
Methods: A perfusable, MR-compatible microchannel network was constructed on the basis of sacrificial melt-spun sugar fibers embedded in a block of epoxy resin. Structural analysis was performed on the basis of light microscopy images before DCE-MRI experiments. During dynamic acquisition the capillary network was perfused with a standard contrast agent injection system. Flow-dependency, as well as inter- and intrascanner reproducibility of the computed DCE parameters were evaluated using a 3.0 T whole-body MRI.
Results: Semi-quantitative and quantitative flow-related parameters exhibited the expected proportionality to the set flow rate (mean Pearson correlation coefficient: 0.991, P < 2.5e-5). The volume fraction was approximately independent from changes of the applied flow rate through the phantom. Repeatability and reproducibility experiments yielded maximum intrascanner coefficients of variation (CV) of 4.6% for quantitative parameters. All evaluated parameters were well in the range of known in vivo results for the applied flow rates.
Conclusion: The constructed phantom enables reproducible, flow-dependent, contrast-enhanced MR measurements with the potential to facilitate standardization and comparability of DCE-MRI examinations.
Keywords: MRI; dynamic contrast-enhanced; phantom; quantitative imaging.
© 2017 American Association of Physicists in Medicine.