Three-dimensional (volume) gradient-echo imaging of the carotid bifurcation: preliminary clinical experience.
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This study was designed to test the accuracy of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging with a FLASH (fast low-angle shot) 40 degrees volume pulse sequence by comparing it with intraarterial digital subtraction angiography (DSA) in patients with suspected carotid artery stenoses. Fifteen patients referred for evaluation of anterior circulation in cerebrovascular disease composed the pilot group. Twelve patients underwent correlative intraarterial DSA examinations. The FLASH volume sequence, with an echo time of 7.7 seconds, produced high-signal-intensity vascular images for 28 of 30 bifurcations. Of the 24 carotid bifurcations studied with DSA, 22 were depicted with MR angiography. Among the depicted bifurcations, 21 showed good correlation with the DSA images. These included four of four normal bifurcations, three of three with mild stenosis, four of four with moderate stenosis, eight of nine with severe stenosis, and two of two with occlusions. With respect to ulceration, three of four MR angiographic studies showed good correlation with DSA images. This preliminary experience indicates that the method is reproducible and capable of delineating carotid lesions in patients and that it can be performed in conjunction with conventional spin-echo imaging of the brain with only a small increase in patient examination time.
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