Intracranial 3D and 4D MR Angiography Using Arterial Spin Labeling: Technical Considerations.
Suzuki Y., Fujima N., van Osch MJP.
In the 1980's some of the earliest studies of arterial spin labeling (ASL) MRI have demonstrated its ability to generate MR angiography (MRA) images. Thanks to many technical improvements, ASL has been successfully moving its position from the realm of research into the clinical area, albeit more known as perfusion imaging than as MRA. For MRA imaging, other techniques such as time-of-flight, phase contrast MRA and contrast-enhanced (CE) MRA are more popular choices for clinical applications. In the last decade, however, ASL-MRA has been experiencing a remarkable revival, especially because of its non-invasive nature, i.e. the fact that it does not rely on the use of contrast agent. Very importantly, there are additional benefits of using ASL for MRA. For example, its higher flexibility to achieve both high spatial and temporal resolution than CE dynamic MRA, and the capability of vessel specific visualization, in which the vascular tree arising from a selected artery can be exclusively visualized. In this article, the implementation and recent developments of ASL-based MRA are discussed; not only focusing on the basic sequences based upon pulsed ASL or pseudo-continuous ASL, but also including more recent labeling approaches, such as vessel-selective labeling, velocity-selective ASL, vessel-encoded ASL and time-encoded ASL. Although these ASL techniques have been already utilized in perfusion imaging and their usefulness has been suggested by many studies, some additional considerations should be made when employing them for MRA, since there is something more than the difference of the spatial resolution of the readout sequence. Moreover, extensive discussion is included on what readout sequence to use, especially by highlighting how to achieve high spatial resolution while keeping scan-time reasonable such that the ASL-MRA sequence can easily be included into a clinical examination.