Non‐invasive MR imaging techniques for measuring femoral arterial flow in a pediatric and adolescent cohort
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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is well-suited for imaging peripheral blood flow due to its non-invasive nature and excellent spatial resolution. Although MRI is routinely used in adults to assess physiological changes in chronic diseases, there are currently no MRI-based data quantifying arterial flow in pediatric or adolescent populations during exercise. Therefore the current research sought to document femoral arterial blood flow at rest and following exercise in a pediatric-adolescent population using phase contrast MRI, and to present test-retest reliability data for this method. Ten healthy children and adolescents (4 male; mean age 14.8 ± 2.4 years) completed bloodwork and resting and exercise MRI. Baseline images consisted of PC-MRI of the femoral artery at rest and following a 5 × 30 s of in-magnet exercise. To evaluate test-retest reliability, five participants returned for repeat testing. All participants successfully completed exercise testing in the MRI. Baseline flow demonstrated excellent reliability (ICC = 0.93, p = 0.006), and peak exercise and delta rest-peak flow demonstrated good reliability (peak exercise ICC = 0.89, p = 0.002, delta rest-peak ICC = 0.87, p = 0.003) between-visits. All three flow measurements demonstrated excellent reliability when assessed with coefficients of variance (CV's) (rest: CV = 6.2%; peak exercise: CV = 7.3%; delta rest-peak: CV = 7.1%). The mean bias was small for femoral arterial flow. There was no significant mean bias between femoral artery flow visits 1 and 2 at peak exercise. There were no correlations between age or height and any of the flow measurements. There were no significant differences between male and female participants for any of the flow measurements. The current study determined that peripheral arterial blood flow in children and adolescents can be evaluated using non-invasive phase contrast MRI. The MRI-based techniques that were used in the current study for measuring arterial flow in pediatric and adolescent patients demonstrated acceptable test-retest reliability both at rest and immediately post-exercise.
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