Effect of Contrast Agent Dose Reduction on Vascular Enhancement and Image Quality in Thoracoabdominal Dynamic 3-Dimensional Magnetic Resonance Angiography: A Systematic Intraindividual Analysis in Pigs

Christoph Hans-Jürgen Endler, Gregor Jost, Hubertus Pietsch, Julian Alexander Luetkens, Vera Catharina Keil, Winfried Albert Willinek, Ulrike Irmgard Attenberger, Dariusch Reza Hadizadeh

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OBJECTIVE: High spatial and temporal resolution contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) with gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) at standard dose offers both detailed anatomic information on both arterial and venous vessels and hemodynamic characteristics. Several preclinical and clinical dynamic 3-dimensional (3D) MRA studies that focused on arterial vessels only proposed that high image quality may also be achieved with significantly reduced GBCA doses, calling into question the need to use standard doses. A systematic analysis of GBCA doses and resulting image quality for both arteries and veins has not yet been performed. The purpose of this study was therefore to systematically analyze dose-dependent vascular enhancements in dynamic 3D-MRA of the thoracoabdominal vasculature at 1.5 T in an animal model to determine the optimal contrast agent protocol for optimized vascular assessment. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The vascular enhancement in thoracoabdominal dynamic 3D-MRA (time-resolved angiography with interleaved stochastic trajectories, TWIST at 1.5 T) was interindividually and intraindividually compared in 5 anesthetized Göttingen minipigs using gadobutrol at the standard dose (0.1 mmol/kg body weight, ie, 0.1 mL/kg) and at reduced doses (0.08, 0.06, 0.04, 0.02 mmol/kg) in a randomized order. All injections were performed at 2 mL/s followed by 20 mL saline. Images were quantitatively analyzed, measuring signal intensities in 5 regions that covered the passage of the GBCA through the body at different representative stages of circulation (pulmonary, arterial, and venous system). The evaluation of GBCA dose-dependent signal intensity changes in the different vascular regions was performed by linear regression analysis.The qualitative image analysis of dynamic 3D-MRA by 3 independent radiologists included the visibility of 25 arterial and venous vessel segments at different stages of GBCA passage. Possible quality losses were statistically tested by comparing image quality ratings at the reduced dose with that of the standard dose using Friedman test followed by Dunn post hoc test for multiple comparison. Significance was stated at P < 0.05. RESULTS: Quantitative analysis revealed shorter time-to-peak intervals and bolus durations in line with decreasing GBCA dose and volume in all vessels. Although the peak signal was almost independent of the administered GBCA dose at the level of the pulmonary trunk, a linear signal decrease in the abdominal aorta ( r2 = 0.96), the renal arteries ( r2 = 0.99), the inferior vena cava ( r2 = 0.99), and the portal vein ( r2 = 0.97) was observed. Cumulative analysis of arterial segments revealed significantly lower image quality at doses below 40% of the standard dose, whereas in venous segments, significantly lower image quality was observed at doses below 60% of the standard dose. CONCLUSIONS: In dynamic 3D-MRA at 1.5 T, dose reduction leads to a signal loss that is most pronounced in the venous system and results in significantly lower image quality according to the dose and vessels of interest. Careful dose reduction is thus required according to the specific diagnostic needs. For dynamic 3D-MRA of the arterial and venous system, GBCA doses of at least 60% of the standard dose up to the full dose are preferable, whereas 40% of the standard dose seems feasible if only the arterial system is to be imaged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-695
Number of pages7
JournalInvestigative radiology
Issue number10
Early online date30 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022


  • contrast media
  • dose reduction
  • gadobutrol
  • magnetic resonance angiography
  • minipigs

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