Objective: MR coronary angiography is most often performed using two-dimensional techniques. Although three-dimensional (3D) acquisitions do have important advantages, they take too long for a single breath-hold and are thus susceptible to respiratory motion artifacts. The purpose of this study was to investigate the accuracy of a unique respiratory-gated 3D MR angiographic technique in identifying the proximal coronary arteries in patients suspected of having coronary artery disease. In addition, we investigated the capability of this technique to detect proximal stenoses.
Subjects and methods: We performed a prospective blinded study in 20 patients who were referred for conventional coronary angiography. A cardiac-gated 3D gradient-echo sequence with fat suppression was used. Retrospective respiratory gating was performed using navigator echoes of the diaphragm position. Using multiplanar reformatting, two independent readers blindly analyzed the data sets for visualization of major coronary arteries, lengths of imaged segments, and detection of significant stenoses (> 50% occlusion of the luminal diameter by conventional angiography).
Results: Seventy-seven of 80 (96%) coronary arteries were positively identified. In one patient, an anomalous coronary anatomy was readily identified and confirmed by conventional angiography. The average lengths of the imaged segments of the right, left main, left anterior descending, and left circumflex coronary arteries were 58 +/- 13 mm, 9 +/- 5 mm, 59 +/- 16 mm, and 24 +/- 10 mm, respectively. Overall sensitivity for the detection of stenoses was low (38%), with a specificity of 95%. Interobserver agreement was 0.92, with a kappa value of 0.65.
Conclusion: Respiratory-gated 3D MR angiography allows accurate identification of proximal coronary arteries and may be valuable for 3D imaging of coronary anomalies. Further technical improvements are required to enhance the value of the technique in detecting stenoses.