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Journal Article

Free-breathing Arterial Spin Labeling MRI for the Detection of Pulmonary Embolism


Pohmann,  R       
Department High-Field Magnetic Resonance, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Othman, A., Liang, C., Komma, Y., Munz, M., Kolb, M., Rath, D., et al. (2023). Free-breathing Arterial Spin Labeling MRI for the Detection of Pulmonary Embolism. Radiology, 307(3): e221998. doi:10.1148/radiol.221998.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-A305-6
Background Arterial spin labeling (ASL) MRI can be used to assess organ perfusion but has yet to be implemented for perfusion evaluation of the lung. Purpose To evaluate pseudo-continuous ASL (PCASL) MRI for the detection of acute pulmonary embolism (PE) and its potential as an alternative to CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA). Materials and Methods Between November 2020 and November 2021, 97 patients (median age, 61 years; 48 women) with suspected PE were enrolled in this prospective study. PCASL MRI was performed within a 72-hour period following CTPA under free-breathing conditions and included three orthogonal planes. The pulmonary trunk was labeled during systole, and the image was acquired during diastole of the subsequent cardiac cycle. Additionally, multisection, coronal, balanced, steady-state free-precession imaging was carried out. Two radiologists blindly assessed overall image quality, artifacts, and diagnostic confidence (five-point Likert scale, 5 = best). Patients were categorized as positive or negative for PE, and a lobe-wise assessment in PCASL MRI and CTPA was conducted. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated on a patient level with the final clinical diagnosis serving as the reference standard. Interchangeability between MRI and CTPA was also tested with use of an individual equivalence index (IEI). Results PCASL MRI was performed successfully in all patients with high scores for image quality, artifact, and diagnostic confidence (κ ≥ .74). Of the 97 patients, 38 were positive for PE. PCASL MRI depicted PE correctly in 35 of 38 patients with three false-positive and three false-negative findings, resulting in a sensitivity of 35 of 38 patients (92% [95% CI: 79, 98]) and a specificity of 56 of 59 patients (95% [95% CI: 86, 99]). Interchangeability analysis revealed an IEI of 2.6% (95% CI: 1.2, 3.8). Conclusion Free-breathing pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling MRI depicted abnormal lung perfusion caused by acute pulmonary embolism and may be useful as a contrast material-free alternative to CT pulmonary angiography for selected patients. German Clinical Trials Register no. DRKS00023599