- OBJECTIVE: Our goal was to determine the feasibility of using an intravascular MR contrast agent to improve 3D MRA. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Three-dimensional TOF MRA was performed in nine patients both prior to and following the administration of an ultrasmall particle superparamagnetic iron oxide contrast agent (AMI 227). The lengths of both renal arteries were measured from the maximum intensity projection (MIP) images as well as the individual partitions. Seven of these patients also were studied by a 3D coronary artery MRA sequence. Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) measurements of the right coronary artery were determined both prior to and following the administration of AMI 227. Statistical analysis of both renal artery lengths and right coronary SNR and CNR was performed using a one tailed paired t test comparing pre- and postcontrast images. RESULTS: The renal artery lengths significantly increased (right and artery: 30%, p = 0.001; left renal artery: 25%, p < 0.008) when measured from the individual axial slice partitions. No significant increase in length was observed on the MIP images following contrast. In the right coronary artery, the SNR increased by an average of 80% (p = 0.008) and CNR increased by an average of 109% (p = 0.007). Increased background signal and superimposed venous structures reduced the measurable lengths of the renal arteries from the MIP images. CONCLUSION: These studies support the hypothesis that 3D MRA in the body will benefit from the use of intravascular contrast agents. Nevertheless, conventional MIP processing is unable to reveal the full advantage of the contrast improvement.