Combined Free-running 4D anatomical and flow MRI with native contrast using Synchronization of Neighboring Acquisitions by Physiological Signals (SyNAPS).

Falcão, Mariana B L; Mackowiak, Adèle L C; Rossi, Giulia M C; Prša, Milan; Tenisch, Estelle; Rumac, Simone; Bacher, Mario; Rutz, Tobias; van Heeswijk, Ruud B; Speier, Peter; Markl, Michael; Bastiaansen, Jessica A M; Stuber, Matthias; Roy, Christopher W (2024). Combined Free-running 4D anatomical and flow MRI with native contrast using Synchronization of Neighboring Acquisitions by Physiological Signals (SyNAPS). Journal of cardiovascular magnetic resonance, 26(1), p. 101006. BioMed Central 10.1016/j.jocmr.2024.101006

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4D flow MRI often relies on the injection of gadolinium- or iron-oxide-based contrast agents to improve vessel delineation. In this work, a novel technique is developed to acquire and reconstruct 4D flow data with excellent dynamic visualization of blood vessels but without the need for contrast injection. Synchronization of Neighboring Acquisitions by Physiological Signals (SyNAPS) uses Pilot Tone (PT) navigation to retrospectively synchronize the reconstruction of two free-running 3D radial acquisitions, to create co-registered anatomy and flow images.


Thirteen volunteers and two Marfan Syndrome patients were scanned without contrast agent using one free-running fast interrupted steady-state (FISS) sequence and one free-running phase-contrast MRI (PC-MRI) sequence. PT signals spanning the two sequences were recorded for retrospective respiratory motion correction and cardiac binning. The magnitude and phase images reconstructed, respectively, from FISS and PC-MRI, were synchronized to create SyNAPS 4D flow datasets. Conventional 2D flow data were acquired for reference in ascending (AAo) and descending aorta (DAo). The blood-to-myocardium contrast ratio, dynamic vessel area, net volume, and peak flow were used to compare SyNAPS 4D flow with Native 4D flow (without FISS information) and 2D flow. A score of 0-4 was given to each dataset by two blinded experts regarding the feasibility of performing vessel delineation.


Blood-to-myocardium contrast ratio for SyNAPS 4D flow magnitude images (1.5±0.3) was significantly higher than for Native 4D flow (0.7±0.1, p<0.01), and was comparable to 2D flow (2.3±0.9, p=0.02). Image quality scores of SyNAPS 4D flow from the experts (MP: 1.9±0.3, ET: 2.5±0.5) were overall significantly higher than the scores from Native 4D flow (MP: 1.6±0.6, p=0.03, ET: 0.8±0.4, p<0.01) but still significantly lower than the scores from the reference 2D flow datasets (MP: 2.8±0.4, p<0.01, ET: 3.5±0.7, p<0.01). The Pearson correlation coefficient between the dynamic vessel area measured on SyNAPS 4D flow and that from 2D flow was 0.69±0.24 for the AAo and 0.83±0.10 for the DAo, whereas the Pearson correlation between Native 4D flow and 2D flow measurements was 0.12±0.48 for the AAo and 0.08±0.39 for the DAo. Linear correlations between SyNAPS 4D flow and 2D flow measurements of net volume (r2=0.83) and peak flow (r2=0.87) were larger than the correlations between Native 4D flow and 2D flow measurements of net volume (r2=0.79) and peak flow (r2=0.76).


The feasibility and utility of SyNAPS was demonstrated for joint whole-heart anatomical and flow MRI without requiring ECG gating, respiratory navigators, or contrast agents. Using SyNAPS a high-contrast anatomical imaging sequence can be used to improve 4D flow measurements that often suffer from poor delineation of vessel boundaries in the absence of contrast agents.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Faculty Institutions > sitem Center for Translational Medicine and Biomedical Entrepreneurship
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic, Interventional and Paediatric Radiology

UniBE Contributor:

Bastiaansen, Jessica


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




BioMed Central




Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

05 Feb 2024 13:53

Last Modified:

12 Jun 2024 00:12

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Uncontrolled Keywords:

4D flow FISS Pilot Tone SyNAPS anatomy and flow MRI dynamic vessel segmentation fast interrupted steady-state MRI free-running free-running CMR phase-contrast MRI synchronization of CMR sequences




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