A simulation tool for dynamic contrast enhanced MRI.

PloS one

PubMedID: 23516414

Pannetier NA, Debacker CS, Mauconduit F, Christen T, Barbier EL. A simulation tool for dynamic contrast enhanced MRI. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(3):e57636.
The quantification of bolus-tracking MRI techniques remains challenging. The acquisition usually relies on one contrast and the analysis on a simplified model of the various phenomena that arise within a voxel, leading to inaccurate perfusion estimates. To evaluate how simplifications in the interstitial model impact perfusion estimates, we propose a numerical tool to simulate the MR signal provided by a dynamic contrast enhanced (DCE) MRI experiment. Our model encompasses the intrinsic R1 and R2 relaxations, the magnetic field perturbations induced by susceptibility interfaces (vessels and cells), the diffusion of the water protons, the blood flow, the permeability of the vessel wall to the the contrast agent (CA) and the constrained diffusion of the CA within the voxel. The blood compartment is modeled as a uniform compartment. The different blocks of the simulation are validated and compared to classical models. The impact of the CA diffusivity on the permeability and blood volume estimates is evaluated. Simulations demonstrate that the CA diffusivity slightly impacts the permeability estimates (< 5% for classical blood flow and CA diffusion). The effect of long echo times is investigated. Simulations show that DCE-MRI performed with an echo time TE = 5 ms may already lead to significant underestimation of the blood volume (up to 30% lower for brain tumor permeability values). The potential and the versatility of the proposed implementation are evaluated by running the simulation with realistic vascular geometry obtained from two photons microscopy and with impermeable cells in the extravascular environment. In conclusion, the proposed simulation tool describes DCE-MRI experiments and may be used to evaluate and optimize acquisition and processing strategies.