Objectives: The objective of this study was to explore the feasibility of using intracranial T1-weighted vessel wall imaging (VWI) to visualize the lenticulostriate arteries (LSAs) at 3T.
Material and methods: Thirteen healthy volunteers were examined with VWI at 3T and TOF-MRA at 7T during the same day. On the vascular skeletons obtained by manual tracing, the number of stems and branches of LSAs were counted. On the most prominent branch in every hemisphere, the contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), the full length and the local length (5-15 mm above MCAs) were measured and compared between the two methods. Nine stroke patients with intracranial artery stenosis were also recruited into the study. The branches of LSAs were compared between the symptomatic and asymptomatic side.
Results: The extracted vascular trees were in good agreement between 7T TOF-MRA and 3T VWI. The two acquisitions showed similar numbers of the LSA stems. The number of branches revealed by 3T VWI was slightly lower than 7T TOF. The full lengths were slightly lower by VWI at 3T (p = 0.011, ICC = 0.917). The measured local lengths (5-15 mm from MCAs) showed high coherence between VWI and TOF-MRA (p = 0.098, ICC = 0.970). In stroke patients, 12 plaques were identified on MCA segments, and nine plaques were located on the symptomatic side. The average numbers of LSA visualized by 3T VWI were 4.3±1.3 on the symptomatic side and 5.0±1.1 on the asymptomatic side.
Conclusion: 3T VWI is capable of depicting LSAs, particularly the stems and the proximal segments, with comparable image quality to that of 7T TOF-MRA.
Key points: • T1-weighted intracranial VWI at 3T allows for black-blood MR angiography of lenticulostriate artery. • 3T intracranial VWI depicts the stems and proximal segments of the lenticulostriate arteries comparable to 7T TOF-MRA. • It is feasible to assess both large vessel wall lesions and lenticulostriate vasculopathy in one scan.
Keywords: Intracranial atherosclerosis; Lenticulostriate vasculopathy; MRI angiography; Stroke.