Highly accelerated intracranial 4D flow MRI: evaluation of healthy volunteers and patients with intracranial aneurysms

  • Jing Liu
  • Louise Koskas
  • Farshid Faraji
  • Evan Kao
  • Yan Wang
  • Henrik Haraldsson
  • Sarah Kefayati
  • Chengcheng Zhu
  • Sinyeob Ahn
  • Gerhard Laub
  • David Saloner
Research Article



To evaluate an accelerated 4D flow MRI method that provides high temporal resolution in a clinically feasible acquisition time for intracranial velocity imaging.

Materials and methods

Accelerated 4D flow MRI was developed by using a pseudo-random variable-density Cartesian undersampling strategy (CIRCUS) with the combination of k-t, parallel imaging and compressed sensing image reconstruction techniques (k-t SPARSE-SENSE). Four-dimensional flow data were acquired on five healthy volunteers and eight patients with intracranial aneurysms using CIRCUS (acceleration factor of R = 4, termed CIRCUS4) and GRAPPA (R = 2, termed GRAPPA2) as the reference method. Images with three times higher temporal resolution (R = 12, CIRCUS12) were also reconstructed from the same acquisition as CIRCUS4. Qualitative and quantitative image assessment was performed on the images acquired with different methods, and complex flow patterns in the aneurysms were identified and compared.


Four-dimensional flow MRI with CIRCUS was achieved in 5 min and allowed further improved temporal resolution of <30 ms. Volunteer studies showed similar qualitative and quantitative evaluation obtained with the proposed approach compared to the reference (overall image scores: GRAPPA2 3.2 ± 0.6; CIRCUS4 3.1 ± 0.7; CIRCUS12 3.3 ± 0.4; difference of the peak velocities: −3.83 ± 7.72 cm/s between CIRCUS4 and GRAPPA2, −1.72 ± 8.41 cm/s between CIRCUS12 and GRAPPA2). In patients with intracranial aneurysms, the higher temporal resolution improved capturing of the flow features in intracranial aneurysms (pathline visualization scores: GRAPPA2 2.2 ± 0.2; CIRCUS4 2.5 ± 0.5; CIRCUS12 2.7 ± 0.6).


The proposed rapid 4D flow MRI with a high temporal resolution is a promising tool for evaluating intracranial aneurysms in a clinically feasible acquisition time.


4D flow Acceleration Undersampling Compressed sensing Intracranial Aneurysm 



This work was supported in part by grants from the NIH K25EB014914 (JL), R56HL133663 (JL) and R01HL114118 (DS).

Authors contribution

Protocol/project development: JL, FF, CZ, SA, GL, DS. Data collection or management: JL, FF, HH, SK, DS. Data analysis: JL, LK, FF, EK, YW, HH, SK, DS

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study was conducted under IRB Approvals (#10-03060) at the University of California San Francisco.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© ESMRMB 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Radiology and Biomedical ImagingUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Siemens HealthcareCaliforniaUSA
  3. 3.Radiology ServiceVA Medical CenterSan FranciscoUSA

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