Accurate vascular input function (VIF) derivation is essential in brain dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) MRI. The optimum site for VIF estimation is, however, debated. This study sought to compare VIFs extracted from the internal carotid artery (ICA) and its branches with an arrival-corrected vascular output function (VOF) derived from the superior sagittal sinus (VOF SSS). DCE-MRI datasets from sixty-six patients with different brain tumours were retrospectively analysed and plasma gadolinium-based contrast agent (GBCA) concentration-time curves used to extract VOF/VIFs from the SSS, the ICA, and the middle cerebral artery. Semi-quantitative parameters across each first-pass VOF/VIF were compared and the relationship between these parameters and GBCA dose was evaluated. Through a test–retest study in 12 patients, the repeatability of each semiquantitative VOF/VIF parameter was evaluated; and through comparison with histopathological data the accuracy of kinetic parameter estimates derived using each VOF/VIF and the extended Tofts model was also assessed. VOF SSS provided a superior surrogate global input function compared to arteries, with greater contrast-to-noise (p < 0.001), higher peak (p < 0.001, repeated-measures ANOVA), and a greater sensitivity to interindividual plasma GBCA concentration. The repeatability of VOF SSS derived semi-quantitative parameters was good to excellent (ICC = 0.717–0.888) outperforming arterial based approaches. In contrast to arterial VIFs, kinetic parameters obtained using a SSS derived VOF permitted detection of intertumoural differences in both microvessel surface area and cell density within resected tissue specimens. These results support the usage of an arrival-corrected VOF SSS as a surrogate vascular input function for kinetic parameter mapping in brain DCE-MRI.
- Brain/diagnostic imaging
- Contrast Media
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
- Retrospective Studies
- Superior Sagittal Sinus/diagnostic imaging