Comparison of different MRI techniques for the assessment of thoracic aortic pathology: 3D contrast enhanced MR angiography, turbo spin echo and balanced steady state free precession

  • Rolf Gebker
  • Osama Gomaa
  • Bernhard Schnackenburg
  • Janina Rebakowski
  • Eckart Fleck
  • Eike Nagel
Original Paper



The purpose of this study was to compare two non-contrast 2D techniques with the current contrast-enhanced MRI standard 3D technique for the routine assessment of thoracic aortic pathologies.


One hundred patients with suspected or known thoracic aortic diseases were examined with a 1.5 T scanner using 2D turbo spin echo (TSE), 2D balanced steady state free precession (balanced SSFP) and 3D contrast-enhanced MR angiography (CE-MRA). The diameters of the aorta at predefined levels were measured. The feasibility to visualize the aortic root and supra-aortic branches was tested. All morphologic abnormalities of the aorta, the aortic wall and the aortic valve, as well as image quality of TSE and balanced SSFP influencing the diagnosis were analysed.


Compared to CE-MRA, balanced SSFP and TSE allowed for the detection of a significantly higher number of relevant pathologies (thickened aortic wall and signs of emergency) in less time. No significant differences were found among the sequences for the identification of aneurysms, dissection membranes and thrombi. No single technique was able to address all clinically relevant issues. TSE was associated with a better image quality compared to balanced SSFP, which however did not translate into a significantly improved diagnostic accuracy.


The total number of pathologic findings was higher using 2D TSE and balanced SSFP when compared to 3D CE-MRA. None of the techniques applied could address all clinically relevant issues. The major drawback of TSE is its relatively long scanning time while balanced SSFP is associated with more artifacts.


Magnetic resonance imaging Aorta Magnetic resonance angiography Black blood imaging Aneurysm Steady state free precession Artifacts 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rolf Gebker
    • 1
  • Osama Gomaa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bernhard Schnackenburg
    • 3
  • Janina Rebakowski
    • 1
  • Eckart Fleck
    • 1
  • Eike Nagel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine – CardiologyGerman Heart Institute BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyCairo UniversityCairoEgypt
  3. 3.Philips Medical SystemsHamburgGermany

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