Initial clinical evaluation of a non-contrast-enhanced MR angiography method in the distal lower extremities




To report the initial experience and diagnostic performance applying a novel flow-dependent non-contrast-enhanced MR angiography (NCE-MRA) method, in patients with suspected peripheral vascular disease, in comparison with established contrast-enhanced MRA (CE-MRA).


The lower legs of 34 patients were imaged at 1.5 T with both NCE-MRA and CE-MRA. The NCE-MRA method consisted of a cardiac-gated balanced-SSFP sequence with controllable flow-suppression preparation. Flow-suppressed and unsuppressed datasets were subtracted to obtain angiograms. Two experienced radiologists assessed both NCE-MRA and CE-MRA images, first independently and then in consensus to resolve significant disagreements. Signal loss, vessel conspicuity, vascular disease, venous contamination, artifacts, and diagnostic confidence were assessed.


Using the CE-MRA as the “gold standard,” the per-segment sensitivity and specificity for detection of significant disease were 81.7% and 90.9%, respectively. Mean diagnostic confidence (scale 0–4) was 3.4 for NCE-MRA and 3.9 for CE-MRA. Most vessel segments were well visualized but the popliteal arteries often suffered some technique-related signal loss.


The NCE-MRA method was able to visualize most vessel segments with good or excellent confidence, few artifacts, and excellent background suppression, giving moderate agreement with CE-MRA. However, some segments were poorly visualized, probably due to flow profile distortion in these patients. Magn Reson Med 70:1644–1652, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.