Strategically acquired gradient echo (STAGE)-derived MR angiography might be a superior alternative method to time-of-flight MR angiography in visualization of leptomeningeal collaterals
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OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to compare the performance of strategically acquired gradient echo (STAGE)-derived MR angiography and time-of-flight MR angiography (TOF-MRA) in visualization of leptomeningeal collaterals (LMCs). METHODS: Between May 2018 and January 2020, 75 participants (47 healthy volunteers and 28 intracranial atherosclerotic disease [ICAD] patients) undergoing TOF-MRA and STAGE-MRA were prospectively included. Image quality was scored at the internal carotid artery (ICA) terminus, proximal middle cerebral artery (MCA), and LMCs. Quantitative analysis included calculation of contrast-to-noise ratios (CNRs) in the M1-4 segments and number of LMCs counted in the line signal intensity profiles. Comparisons of image qualitative scores, CNRs, and number of LMCs were calculated using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test. RESULTS: Image qualitative scores were significantly higher in STAGE-MRA than in TOF-MRA for the ICA terminus, proximal MCA, and LMCs (ps < 0.05) in 75 participants. When referred to digital subtraction angiography (DSA) in 25 ICAD patients, STAGE-MRA showed higher qualitative scores only at LMCs. CNRs in the M1-4 segments were significantly higher in STAGE-MRA than in TOF-MRA (218.7 ± 90.7 vs 176.2 ± 72.6, 195.7 ± 86.0 vs 146.6 ± 71.7, 176.4 ± 71.6 vs 125.8 ± 61.1, 126.2 ± 62.9 vs 78.8 ± 43.6; all ps < 0.001). STAGE-MRA showed more LMCs (11.4 ± 3.4) than TOF-MRA (8.4 ± 3.3) with p < 0.05. CONCLUSIONS: STAGE-MRA might be superior to TOF-MRA in qualitative and quantitative assessment of LMCs in both healthy volunteers and ICAD patients; thus, it may serve as an alternative method in evaluating LMC. KEY POINTS: • Strategically acquired gradient echo (STAGE)-derived magnetic resonance angiography is a newly developed sequence with a pair of rephasing/dephasing gradient echoes. • STAGE-MRA enables higher image qualitative score, improves contrast-to-noise ratio, and shows greater number of leptomeningeal collaterals (LMCs) in healthy volunteers and patients with intracranial atherosclerotic disease. • LMC visualization by STAGE-MRA shows good to excellent inter-observer agreement.
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