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Investigating the Influence of Flip Angle and k-Space Sampling on Dynamic Contrast-Enhanced MRI Breast Examinations

Elsevier Inc.
DOI: 10.1016/j.acra.2014.06.014
  • Breast Imaging
  • Mri
  • Contrast Agents
  • Enhancement
  • Quality Assurance
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Rationale and Objectives To retrospectively investigate the effect of flip angle (FA) and k-space sampling on the performance of dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE-) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) breast sequences. Materials and Methods Five DCE-MRI breast sequences were evaluated (10°, 14°, and 18° FAs; radial or linear k-space sampling), with 7–10 patients in each group (n = 45). All sequences were compliant with current technical breast screening guidelines. Contrast agent (CA) uptake curves were constructed from the right mammary artery for each examination. Maximum relative enhancement, Emax, and time-to-peak enhancement, Tmax, were measured and compared between protocols (analysis of variance and Mann–Whitney). For each sequence, calculated values of maximum relative enhancement, Ecalc, were derived from the Bloch equations and compared to Emax. Fat suppression performance (residual bright fat and chemical shift artifact) was rated for each examination and compared between sequences (Fisher exact tests). Results Significant differences were identified between DCE-MRI sequences. Emax increased significantly at higher FAs and with linear k-space sampling (P < .0001; P = .001). Radial protocols exhibited greater Tmax than linear protocols at FAs of both 14° (P = .025) and 18° (P < .0001), suggesting artificially flattened uptake curves. Good correlation was observed between Ecalc and Emax (r = 0.86). Fat suppression failure was more pronounced at an FA of 18° (P = .008). Conclusions This retrospective approach is validated as a tool to compare and optimize breast DCE-MRI sequences. Alterations in FA and k-space sampling result in significant differences in CA uptake curve shape which could potentially affect diagnostic interpretation. These results emphasize the need for careful parameter selection and greater standardization of breast DCE-MRI sequences.

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