Investigation of arterial spin labeling MRI for quantitative cerebral blood flow measurement

Theodore Roosevelt Steger, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Arterial spin labeling (ASL) is a technique for noninvasively measuring cerebral perfusion using magnetic resonance imaging. Clinical applications of ASL include functional activation studies, evaluation of the effect of pharmaceuticals on perfusion, and assessment of cerebrovascular disease, stroke, and brain tumor. The use of ASL in the clinic has been limited by poor image quality when large anatomic coverage is required and the time required for data acquisition and processing. This research sought to address these difficulties by optimizing the ASL acquisition and processing schemes. To improve data acquisition, optimal acquisition parameters were determined through simulations, phantom studies and in vivo measurements. The scan time for ASL data acquisition was limited to fifteen minutes to reduce potential subject motion. A processing scheme was implemented that rapidly produced regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) maps with minimal user input. To provide a measure of the precision of the rCBF values produced by ASL, bootstrap analysis was performed on a representative data set. The bootstrap analysis of single gray and white matter voxels yielded a coefficient of variation of 6.7% and 29% respectively, implying that the calculated rCBF value is far more precise for gray matter than white matter. Additionally, bootstrap analysis was performed to investigate the sensitivity of the rCBF data to the input parameters and provide a quantitative comparison of several existing perfusion models. This study guided the selection of the optimum perfusion quantification model for further experiments. The optimized ASL acquisition and processing schemes were evaluated with two ASL acquisitions on each of five normal subjects. The gray-to-white matter rCBF ratios for nine of the ten acquisitions were within ±10% of 2.6 and none were statistically different from 2.6, the typical ratio produced by a variety of quantitative perfusion techniques. Overall, this work produced an ASL data acquisition and processing technique for quantitative perfusion and functional activation studies, while revealing the limitations of the technique through bootstrap analysis.

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Recommended Citation

Steger, Theodore Roosevelt, "Investigation of arterial spin labeling MRI for quantitative cerebral blood flow measurement" (2004). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3138887.