Magnetic resonance angiography of the central chest veins. A new gold standard?

Chest. 1995 Apr;107(4):1053-7. doi: 10.1378/chest.107.4.1053.


Purpose: The systemic chest veins may be difficult to show comprehensively by contrast venography, especially if there is limited venous access or contraindications to intravenous contrast. As an alternative, can magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) reliably detect occluded chest veins and predict suitable sites for central venous access?

Patients and methods: Eighty-four patients were examined using breath-hold time-of-flight MRA and three-dimensional image reconstruction. Thirty-three were evaluated to identify possible central venous access. Fifty-seven patients were examined to diagnose and stage central venous occlusion.

Results: The associated diagnoses were malignancy 46, parenteral nutrition 21, hemodialysis 6, chemotherapy 4, and other long-term venous access 7. Of the 28 patients in whom MRA predicted a patent site for central venous access, satisfactory access was achieved. In two patients, cannulation of veins shown to be occluded on MRA was attempted unsuccessfully. Correlation with contrast venography was available in 17. There was agreement with MRA concerning the level of occluded veins in all cases. Contrast venography did not show all patent veins, including some accessed during surgical line placement.

Conclusion: Compared with surgical line placement or contrast venography, MRA of the systemic chest veins is accurate. Patent and occluded chest veins are reliably defined, including potential sites for central line placement, in a way that is not possible with other techniques. MRA may be the new "gold standard" for defining systemic venous anatomy in the chest.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phlebography
  • Thorax / blood supply*
  • Vascular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Veins / anatomy & histology