BACKGROUND: Passive paramagnetic markers on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-compatible endovascular devices induce susceptibility artifacts, enabling MRI-visibility and real-time MRI-guidance. Optimised visibility is crucial for automatic detection and device tracking but depends on MRI technical parameters and marker characteristics. We assessed marker visibility and automatic detection robustness for varying MRI parameters and marker characteristics in a pulsatile flow phantom.
METHODS: Guidewires with varying iron(II,III) oxide nanoparticle (IONP) concentration markers were imaged using gradient-echo (GRE) and balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) sequences at 3 T. Furthermore, echo time (TE), slice thickness (ST) and phase encoding direction (PED) were varied. Artifact width was measured and contrast-to-noise ratios were calculated. Marker visibility and image quality were scored by two MRI interventional radiologists. Additionally, a deep learning model for automatic marker detection was trained and the effects of the parameters on detection performance were evaluated. Two-tailed Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used (significance level, p < 0.05).
RESULTS: Medan artifact width (IQR) was larger in bSSFP compared to GRE images (12.7 mm (11.0-15.2) versus 8.4 mm (6.5-11.0)) (p < 0.001) and showed a positive relation with TE and IONP concentration. Switching PED and doubling ST had limited effect on artifact width. Image quality assessment scores were higher for GRE compared to bSSFP images. The deep learning model automatically detected the markers. However, the model performance was reduced after adjusting PED, TE, and IONP concentration.
CONCLUSION: Marker visibility was sufficient and a large range of artifact sizes was generated by adjusting TE and IONP concentration. Deep learning-based marker detection was feasible but performance decreased for altered MR parameters. These factors should be considered to optimise device visibility and ensure reliable automatic marker detectability in MRI-guided endovascular interventions.