Objectives: To evaluate the diagnostic performance of a new three-dimensional T1-weighted turbo-spin-echo sequence (3D T1-w TSE) compared to 3D contrast-enhanced angiography (CE-MRA) for stenosis measurement and compared to 2D T1-w TSE for intra-plaque hemorrhage (IPH) detection.
Methods: Eighty three patients underwent carotid MRI, using a new elliptic-centric phase encoding T1-weighted 3D TSE sequence in addition to the clinical protocol. Two observers evaluated image quality, presence of flow artifacts, and presence of intra-plaque hemorrhage, and computed the NASCET degree of stenosis for CE-MRA and for the new sequence. Inter-observer agreement and correlation between 3D TSE and CE-MRA for NASCET stenosis was estimated using Cohen's kappa, and correlation using linear regression and Bland-Altman plots. Histology was performed on endarterectomy samples for 18 patients. Sensitivity and specificity of 2D and 3D TSE for IPH diagnosis were computed.
Results: 3D TSE showed better image quality than 2D TSE (p<0.05). Interobserver agreement was good (kappa≥0.86). Correlation between 3D TSE and CE-MRA was excellent (R=0.95) for NASCET stenosis. Sensitivity and specificity for IPH diagnosis was 50% and 100% for 2D TSE and 100% and 83% for the 3D TSE.
Conclusions: The new 3D T1-w TSE allows both reliable measures of carotid stenosis, with a slight overestimation compared to CE-MRA (5%), and improved IPH identification, compared to 2D TSE.
Keywords: 3D MRI; Atherosclerosis; Carotid stenosis; Intraplaque hemorrhage.
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