Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Medical Physics

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

James A. Bankson

Committee Member

John D. Hazle

Committee Member

Edward F. Jackson

Committee Member

R. Jason Stafford

Committee Member

Valen E. Johnson


DCE-MRI is an important technique in the study of small animal cancer models because its sensitivity to vascular changes opens the possibility of quantitative assessment of early therapeutic response. However, extraction of physiologically descriptive parameters from DCE-MRI data relies upon measurement of the vascular input function (VIF), which represents the contrast agent concentration time course in the blood plasma. This is difficult in small animal models due to artifacts associated with partial volume, inflow enhancement, and the limited temporal resolution achievable with MR imaging. In this work, the development of a suite of techniques for high temporal resolution, artifact resistant measurement of the VIF in mice is described. One obstacle in VIF measurement is inflow enhancement, which decreases the sensitivity of the MR signal to the presence of contrast agent. Because the traditional techniques used to suppress inflow enhancement degrade the achievable spatiotemporal resolution of the pulse sequence, improvements can be achieved by reducing the time required for the suppression. Thus, a novel RF pulse which provides spatial presaturation contemporaneously with the RF excitation was implemented and evaluated. This maximizes the achievable temporal resolution by removing the additional RF and gradient pulses typically required for suppression of inflow enhancement. A second challenge is achieving the temporal resolution required for accurate characterization of the VIF, which exceeds what can be achieved with conventional imaging techniques while maintaining adequate spatial resolution and tumor coverage. Thus, an anatomically constrained reconstruction strategy was developed that allows for sampling of the VIF at extremely high acceleration factors, permitting capture of the initial pass of the contrast agent in mice. Simulation, phantom, and in vivo validation of all components were performed. Finally, the two components were used to perform VIF measurement in the murine heart. An in vivo study of the VIF reproducibility was performed, and an improvement in the measured injection-to-injection variation was observed. This will lead to improvements in the reliability of quantitative DCE-MRI measurements and increase their sensitivity.


magnetic resonance imaging, DCE-MRI, VIF, AIF, small animal imaging, constrained reconstruction, flow enhancement, reproducibility