Respiration‐related CSF flow through the cerebral aqueduct may be useful for elucidating physiology and pathophysiology of the glymphatic system, which has been proposed as a mechanism of brain waste clearance. Therefore, we aimed to (1) develop a real‐time (CSF) flow imaging method with high spatial and sufficient temporal resolution to capture respiratory effects, (2) validate the method in a phantom setup and numerical simulations, and (3) apply the method in vivo and quantify its repeatability and correlation with different respiratory conditions.
A golden‐angle radial flow sequence (reconstructed temporal resolution 168 ms, spatial resolution 0.6 mm) was implemented on a 7T MRI scanner and reconstructed using compressed sensing. A phantom setup mimicked simultaneous cardiac and respiratory flow oscillations. The effect of temporal resolution and vessel diameter was investigated numerically. Healthy volunteers (n = 10) were scanned at four different respiratory conditions, including repeat scans.
Phantom data show that the developed sequence accurately quantifies respiratory oscillations (ratio real‐time/reference QR = 0.96 ± 0.02), but underestimates the rapid cardiac oscillations (ratio QC = 0.46 ± 0.14). Simulations suggest that QC can be improved by increasing temporal resolution. In vivo repeatability was moderate to very strong for cranial and caudal flow (intraclass correlation coefficient range: 0.55–0.99) and weak to strong for net flow (intraclass correlation coefficient range: 0.48–0.90). Net flow was influenced by respiratory condition (p < 0.01).
The presented real‐time flow MRI method can quantify respiratory‐related variations of CSF flow in the cerebral aqueduct, but it underestimates rapid cardiac oscillations. In vivo, the method showed good repeatability and a relationship between flow and respiration.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.