, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 581-589
Date: 21 May 2009

Variability of carotid artery measurements on 3-Tesla MRI and its impact on sample size calculation for clinical research

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

Carotid MRI measurements are increasingly being employed in research studies for atherosclerosis imaging. The majority of carotid imaging studies use 1.5 T MRI. Our objective was to investigate intra-observer and inter-observer variability in carotid measurements using high resolution 3 T MRI. We performed 3 T carotid MRI on 10 patients (age 56 ± 8 years, 7 male) with atherosclerosis risk factors and ultrasound intima-media thickness ≥0.6 mm. A total of 20 transverse images of both right and left carotid arteries were acquired using T2 weighted black-blood sequence. The lumen and outer wall of the common carotid and internal carotid arteries were manually traced; vessel wall area, vessel wall volume, and average wall thickness measurements were then assessed for intra-observer and inter-observer variability. Pearson and intraclass correlations were used in these assessments, along with Bland-Altman plots. For inter-observer variability, Pearson correlations ranged from 0.936 to 0.996 and intraclass correlations from 0.927 to 0.991. For intra-observer variability, Pearson correlations ranged from 0.934 to 0.954 and intraclass correlations from 0.831 to 0.948. Calculations showed that inter-observer variability and other sources of error would inflate sample size requirements for a clinical trial by no more than 7.9%, indicating that 3 T MRI is nearly optimal in this respect. In patients with subclinical atherosclerosis, 3 T carotid MRI measurements are highly reproducible and have important implications for clinical trial design.