• blood flow;
  • brain;
  • dynamic susceptibility contrast;
  • input function;
  • mean transit time


Measurement of the arterial input bolus shape is essential to the quantification of mean transit time and blood flow with dynamic susceptibility contrast (DSC) MRI. Input functions derived from the echoplanar signal intensity within or near arteries are highly nonlinear, yet such input functions are widely used. We employed a physical model for the echoplanar signal intensity from an artery as a function of contrast agent concentration, artery size, and angle to the magnetic field to test approaches for the measurement of the arterial input function. The simulated results confirmed the strong nonlinearity of signal in the neighborhood of vessels. Of the input function measurement methods considered, the simulations suggested that measurement of signal near but not within a large vessel is most accurate, but mean transit times (MTT) calculated with these input functions are highly sensitive to peak bolus concentration. Input functions determined from voxels demonstrating the shortest first moment overestimated the MTT but the measured MTTs were more robust to changes in peak concentration. Characteristics of the measured in vivo input functions were consistent with the simulations. Our results emphasize the important contribution of input function errors to the uncertainty in MTT and blood flow imaging with DSC MRI. Magn Reson Med, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.