MRI protocol optimization for quantitative DCE-MRI of the spine

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Purpose: In this study we systematically investigated different Dynamic Contrast Enhancement (DCE)-MRI protocols in the spine, with the goal of finding an optimal protocol that provides data suitable for quantitative pharmacokinetic modelling (PKM). Materials and methods: In 13 patients referred for MRI of the spine, DCE-MRI of the spine was performed with 2D and 3D MRI protocols on a 3T Philips Ingenuity MR system. A standard bolus of contrast agent (Dotarem 0.2 ml/kg body weight) was injected intravenously at a speed of 3 ml/s. Different techniques for acceleration and motion compensation were tested: parallel imaging, partial-Fourier imaging and flow compensation. The quality of the DCE MRI images was scored on the basis of SNR, motion artefacts due to flow and respiration, signal enhancement, quality of the T-1 map and of the arterial input function, and quality of pharmacokinetic model fitting to the extended Tofts model. Results: Sagittal 3D sequences are to be preferred for PKM of the spine. Acceleration techniques were unsuccessful due to increased flow or motion artefacts. Motion compensating gradients failed to improve the DCE scans due to the longer echo time and the T-2* decay which becomes more dominant and leads to signal loss, especially in the aorta. The quality scoring revealed that the best method was a conventional 3D gradient-echo acquisition without any acceleration or motion compensation technique. The priority in the choice of sequence parameters should be given to reducing echo time and keeping the dynamic temporal resolution below 5 s. Increasing the number of acquisition, when possible, helps towards reducing flow artefacts. In our setting we achieved this with a sagittal 3D slab with 5 slices with a thickness of 4.5 mm and two acquisitions. Conclusion: The proposed DCE protocol, encompassing the spine and the descending aorta, produces a realistic arterial input function and dynamic data suitable for PKM
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-103
Number of pages8
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Dynamic contrast enhancement
  • Pharmacokinetic modelling
  • Spine
  • Tofts' model

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