PURPOSE To demonstrate the feasibility of combined delayed-phase gadoxetic acid (GA) and gadobenate dimeglumine (GD) enhanced liver MRI for improved detection of liver metastases, and to optimize contrast agent dose, timing, and flip angle (FA).
METHODS Fourteen healthy volunteers underwent liver MRI at 3.0T at two visits during which they received two consecutive injections: 1. GA (Visit 1 = 0.025 mmol/kg; Visit 2 = 0.05 mmol/kg) and 2. GD (both visits = 0.1 mmol/kg) 20 min after GA administration. Two sub-studies were performed: Experiment-1 Eight subjects underwent multi-phase breath-held 3D-fat-saturated T1-weighted spoiled gradient echo (SGRE) imaging to determine the optimal imaging window for the combined GA + GD protocol to create a homogeneously hyperintense liver and vasculature ("plain-white-liver") with maximum contrast to muscle which served as a surrogate for metastatic lesions in both experiments. Experiment-2 Six subjects underwent breath-held 3D-fat-saturated T1-weighted SGRE imaging at three different FA to determine the optimal FA for best image contrast. Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) were evaluated.
RESULTS Experiment-1 The combined GA + GD protocol created a homogeneously hyperintense liver and vasculature with maximum CNR liver/muscle at approximately 60-120 s after automatic GD-bolus detection. Experiment-2 Flip angles between 25° and 35° at a dose of 0.025 mmol/kg GA provided the best combination that minimized liver/vasculature CNR, while maximizing liver/muscle CNR. CNR performance to achieve a "plain-white-liver" was superior with 0.025 mmol/kg GA compared to 0.05 mmol/kg.
CONCLUSION Combined GA + GD enhanced T1-weighted MRI is feasible to achieve a homogeneously "plain-white-liver". Future studies need to confirm that this protocol can improve sensitivity of liver lesion detection in patients with metastatic liver disease.