Purpose: To implement and characterize a fluorine-19 (19F) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique and to test the hypothesis that the 19F MRI signal in steady state after intravenous injection of a perfluoro-15-crown-5 ether (PCE) emulsion may be exploited for angiography in a pre-clinical in vivo animal study. Materials and Methods: In vitro at 9.4T, the detection limit of the PCE emulsion at a scan time of 10 min/slice was determined, after which the T1 and T2 of PCE in venous blood were measured. Permission from the local animal use committee was obtained for all animal experiments. 12 μl/g of PCE emulsion was intravenously injected in 11 mice. Gradient echo 1H and 19F images were obtained at identical anatomical levels. Signal-to-noise (SNR) and contrast-to-noise (CNR) ratios were determined for 33 vessels in both the 19F and 1H images, which was followed by vessel tracking to determine the vessel conspicuity for both modalities. Results: In vitro, the detection limit was ~400 μM, while the 19F T1 and T2 were 1350±40 and 25±2 ms. The 19F MR angiograms selectively visualized the vasculature (and the liver parenchyma over time) while precisely coregistering with the 1H images. Due to the lower SNR of 19F compared to 1H (17±8 vs. 83±49, p<0.001), the 19F CNR was also lower at 15±8 vs. 52±35 (p<0.001). Vessel tracking demonstrated a significantly higher vessel sharpness in the 19F images (66±11 vs. 56±12, p = 0.002). Conclusion: 19F magnetic resonance angiography of intravenously administered perfluorocarbon emulsions is feasible for a selective and exclusive visualization of the vasculature in vivo.
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