Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the potential of stroboscopic-wavefield-sampling-based multifrequency magnetic resonance elastography (sMRE) for quantifying the stiffness of the human thoracic and abdominal aorta in vivo.
Materials and methods: The sMRE of the thoracic and abdominal aorta was performed at 1.5 T field strength in 20 healthy volunteers aged 27 to 77 years (3 women; median age, 33 years; interquartile range [IQR], 16 years). Compound maps of shear wave speed (SWS) were reconstructed and evaluated during the diastolic phase in 3 anatomical regions: ascending thoracic aorta (AA), descending thoracic aorta (AD), and abdominal aorta (AAb). The SWS maps were read by 2 readers. Blood pressure and pulse wave velocity were determined noninvasively before sMRE. Data are given as median (IQR) and were compared using the Kruskal-Wallis and Wilcoxon rank sum tests. Intraclass correlation was used to determine interobserver and intraobserver agreement, as well as reproducibility. Multiple linear regression analysis was performed to evaluate effects of age, sex, vessel diameter, blood pressure, pulse wave velocity, and aortic segment on measured SWS.
Results: All 20 participants underwent successful sMRE, resulting in a total of 60 aortic segments. The median SWS (IQR) of AA, AD, and AAb was 1.62 (0.16) m/s, 2.40 (0.24) m/s, and 2.48 (0.58) m/s, respectively. The SWS in AA was significantly lower (P < 0.001), and no differences in SWS (P = 0.67) were found between AD and AAb. Interobserver and intraobserver agreement, as well as reproducibility, was excellent, with intraclass correlation coefficients ranging between 0.957 and 0.998. A significant but weak influence of age on measured SWS was found, which increased from AA to AD and AAb (R = 0.229, 0.275, 0.377, respectively; P = 0.001-0.005).
Conclusions: Quantification of aortic stiffness in different segments of the human aorta is possible with sMRE. Our results correlate well with known aortic stiffness differences in different anatomical locations and demonstrate the potential of sMRE for clinical stiffness measurement of the thoracoabdominal aorta, which may allow detection of physiological variation and cardiovascular diseases.