- This study was designed to optimize three-dimensional (3D) time-of-flight (TOF) magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) sequences and to determine whether contrast-enhanced MRA could improve the accuracy of lumen definition in stenosed carotid arteries of minipigs. 3D TOF MRA was acquired with use of either an intravascular (n = 13) and/or an extravascular contrast agent (n = 5) administrated at 2 to 4 weeks after balloon-induced injury to a carotid artery in 16 minipigs. Vascular contrast, defined as signal intensity differences between blood vessels and muscle normalized to the signal intensity of muscle, was compared before and after the injection of each contrast agent and between the two agents. Different vascular patencies were observed among the animals, including completely occluded vessels (n = 5), stenotic vessels (n = 3), and vessels with no visible stenosis (n = 8). Superior vascular contrast improvement was observed for small arteries and veins and for large veins with the intravascular contrast agent when compared with the extravascular contrast agent. In addition, preliminary studies in two of the animals showed a good correlation for the extent of luminal stenosis defined by digital subtraction angiography compared with MRA obtained after administration of the intravascular contrast agent (R2 = .71, with a slope of .96 +/- .04 by a linear regression analysis). We concluded that use of an intravascular contrast agent optimizes 3D TOF MRA and may improve its accuracy compared with digital subtraction angiography.