Journal of Digital Imaging

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 470–477 | Cite as

Visualization of Through-Plane Blood Flow Measurements Obtained from Phase-Contrast MRI



The purpose of this work was to develop a visualization method for concurrent observation of both velocity and magnitude data obtained from through-plane velocity measurements using phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging. Magnitude and velocity images were combined using an opacity transfer function (OTF) where the opacity was a function of a velocity range defined by the velocity encoding (v enc) parameter. Measured velocities were color-coded according to a predefined color scale and then combined into one image with the gray-scale magnitude image according to the OTF. In the combined images, simultaneous information of velocity and anatomy was presented. The proposed visualization method facilitated the understanding of how the measured blood flow was related to the underlying anatomy. Results are shown where the method is used to visualize blood flow measurements in the ascending aorta and the aortic valve. Adjustments of the OTF render possible identification of the peak velocities and their localization. Forward and backward blood flow is easily shown when applying appropriate OTF and color-coding. An advantage when using the proposed method is the ability of developing standardized protocol settings since the velocity information is quantitative and not relative as is the case for data obtained from the magnitude images. The intended application of the visualization method is the analysis of common flow studies used in the diagnosis of different cardiovascular diseases.

Key words

Magnetic resonance imaging image visualization digital image management MR imaging user interface 



This work has been supported by the Research Committee of Örebro County Council. This project is part of the program NovaMedTech, financed by the European Union—European Regional Development Fund. The authors gratefully acknowledge Terence Kearey for the constructive comments on the text.


  1. 1.
    Pelc NJ, Herfkens RJ, Shimakawa A, Enzmann DR: Phase contrast cine magnetic resonance imaging. Magn Reson Q 7:229–254, 1991PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ståhlberg F, Thomsen C, Sondergaard L, Henriksen O: Pulse sequence design for MR velocity mapping of complex flow: notes on the necessity of low echo times. Magn Reson Imaging 12:1255–1262, 1994PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Walker MF, Souza SP, Dumoulin CL: Quantitative flow measurement in phase contrast MR angiography. J Comput Assist Tomogr 12:304–313, 1988PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gatehouse PD, Keegan J, Crowe LA, Masood S, Mohiaddin RH, Kreitner KF, Firmin DN: Applications of phase-contrast flow and velocity imaging in cardiovascular MRI. Eur Radiol 15:2172–2184, 2005PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wigström L, Ebbers T, Fyrenius A, Karlsson M, Engvall J, Wranne B, Bolger AF: Particle trace visualization of intracardiac flow using time-resolved 3D phase contrast MRI. Magn Reson Med 41:793–799, 1999PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Pelc NJ, Sommer FG, Li KC, Brosnan TJ, Herfkens RJ, Enzmann DR: Quantitative magnetic resonance flow imaging. Magn Reson Q 10:125–147, 1994PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Markl M, Chan FP, Alley MT, Wedding KL, Draney MT, Elkins CJ, Parker DW, Wicker R, Taylor CA, Herfkens RJ, Pelc NJ: Time-resolved three-dimensional phase-contrast MRI. J Magn Reson Imaging 17:499–506, 2003PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Nayak KS, Pauly JM, Kerr AB, Hu BS, Nishimura DG: Real-time color flow MRI. Magn Reson Med 43:251–258, 2000PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Calhoun PS, Kuszyk BS, Heath DG, Carley JC, Fishman EK: Three-dimensional volume rendering of spiral CT data: theory and method. Radiographics 19:745–764, 1999PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Preim B, Bartz D: Visualization in medicine. Morgan Kaufmann, Burlington, 2007, pp 183–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Arheden H, Holmqvist C, Thilen U, Hanseus K, Björkhem G, Pahlm O, Laurin S, Ståhlberg F: Left-to-right cardiac shunts: comparison of measurements obtained with MR velocity mapping and with radionuclide angiography. Radiology 211:453–458, 1999PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kvitting JP, Ebbers T, Wigstrom L, Engvall J, Olin CL, Bolger AF: Flow patterns in the aortic root and the aorta studied with time-resolved, 3-dimensional, phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging: implications for aortic valve-sparing surgery. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 127:1602–1607, 2004PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Segadal L, Matre K: Blood velocity distribution in the human ascending aorta. Circulation 76:90–100, 1987PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Klipstein RH, Firmin DN, Underwood SR, Rees RS, Longmore DB: Blood flow patterns in the human aorta studied by magnetic resonance. Br Heart J 58:316–323, 1987PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kilner PJ, Manzara CC, Mohiaddin RH, Pennell DJ, Sutton MG, Firmin DN, Underwood SR, Longmore DB: Magnetic resonance jet velocity mapping in mitral and aortic valve stenosis. Circulation 87:1239–1248, 1993PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Søndergaard L, Ståhlberg F, Thomsen C: Magnetic resonance imaging of valvular heart disease. J Magn Reson Imaging 10:627–638, 1999PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kunz RP, Oberholzer K, Kuroczynski W, Horstick G, Krummenauer F, Thelen M, Kreitner KF: Assessment of chronic aortic dissection: contribution of different ECG-gated breath-hold MRI techniques. AJR Am J Roentgenol 182:1319–1326, 2004PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Steffens JC, Bourne MW, Sakuma H, O'Sullivan M, Higgins CB: Quantification of collateral blood flow in coarctation of the aorta by velocity encoded cine magnetic resonance imaging. Circulation 90:937–943, 1994PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Oshinski JN, Parks WJ, Markou CP, Bergman HL, Larson BE, Ku DN, Mukundan Jr, S, Pettigrew RI: Improved measurement of pressure gradients in aortic coarctation by magnetic resonance imaging. J Am Coll Cardiol 28:1818–1826, 1996PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical PhysicsÖrebro University HospitalÖrebroSweden
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyÖrebro University HospitalÖrebroSweden

Personalised recommendations