Four-dimensional phase contrast magnetic resonance angiography: Potential clinical applications

Alex Frydrychowicz*, Christopher J. Franois, Patrick A. Turski

*Corresponding author for this work
48 Citations (Scopus)


Unlike other magnetic resonance angiographic techniques, phase contrast imaging (PC-MRI) offers co-registered morphologic images and velocity data within a single acquisition. While the basic principle of PC-MRI dates back almost 3 decades, novel time-resolved three-dimensional PC-MRI (4D PC-MRI) approaches have become increasingly researched over the past years. So-called 4D PC-MRI includes three-directional velocity encoding in a three-dimensional imaging volume over time, thereby providing the opportunity to comprehensively analyze human hemodynamics in vivo. Moreover, its large volume coverage offers the option to study systemic hemodynamic effects. Additionally, this offers the possibility to re-visit flow in any location of interest without being limited to predetermined two-dimensional slices. The attention received for hemodynamic research is partially based on flow-based theories of atherogenesis and arterial remodeling. 4D PC-MRI can be used to calculate flow-related vessel wall parameters and may hence serve as a diagnostic tool in preemptive medicine. Furthermore, technical improvements including the availability of sufficient computing power, data storage capabilities, and optimized acceleration schemes for data acquisition as well as comprehensive image processing algorithms have largely facilitated recent research progresses. We will present an overview of the potential of this relatively young imaging paradigm. After acquisition and processing the data in morphological and phase difference images, various visualization strategies permit the qualitative analysis of hemodynamics. A multitude of quantitative parameters such as pulse wave velocities and estimates of wall shear stress which might serve as future biomarkers can be extracted. Thereby, exciting new opportunities for vascular imaging and diagnosis are available.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)24-35
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2011


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