Scan-Rescan Reproducibility of High Resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Atherosclerotic Plaque in the Middle Cerebral Artery.


PURPOSE: To evaluate the scan-rescan reproducibility of high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of middle cerebral artery (MCA) plaque, and calculate the number of subjects needed for future longitudinal clinical studies. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Twenty two patients with MCA plaque were scanned twice by a T2-weighted fast-spin-echo sequence at 3T. Areas and volumes of MCA lumen, total vessel and plaque were quantified and compared between two repeated scans. Agreement and measurement error was quantified by intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and coefficient of variance (CV) as defined by standard deviation (SD) of pair wise difference / mean. Sample size needed to detect 5% to 20% changes in area/volume was calculated using 80% power and 5% significance level. RESULTS: There was no significant different between the area and volume measurements of two repeated scans (p>0.05) with good agreement (ICC range 0.97-0.98 for area and 0.99 for volume). Relatively small measurement errors were observed with CVs range 6.1%-11.8% for area quantification and 4.9%-8.0% for volume quantification. Volume measurements tended to have 19.7% to 32.2% smaller CVs compared with area measurements. Sample size calculation showed a group of 47 patients was sufficient to detect 5% to 10% changes in MCA area/volume. CONCLUSION: High resolution MRI is feasible for quantifying intracranial plaque area and volume in longitudinal clinical studies with low scan-rescan variability. Volume measurement tends to be more reproducible compared with area measurements.