Mean cerebral blood flow measurements using phase contrast MRI in the first year of life

Marta Varela, Alan M. Groves, Tomoki Arichi, Joseph V. Hajnal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Alterations in cerebral blood flow (CBF) are believed to be linked to many of the neurological pathologies that affect neonates and small infants. CBF measurements are nonetheless often difficult to perform in this population, as many techniques rely on radioactive tracers or other invasive methods. In this study, mean global CBF was measured in 21 infants under the age of one, using non-invasive MRI techniques adapted to the neonatal population. Mean CBF was computed as the ratio of blood flow delivered to the brain (measured using phase contrast MRI) and brain volume (computed by segmenting anatomical MR images). Tests in adult volunteers and repeated measurements showed the flow measurements using the proposed method to be both accurate and reproducible. It was also found that cardiac gating need not be employed in infants with no known cardiac pathology. The developed technique can easily be appended to a neonatal MRI examination to provide rapid, robust, and non-invasive estimates of mean CBF, thus providing a means to monitor developmental or pathology-related alterations in cerebral perfusion and the impact of different treatment courses. In the imaged cohort, mean CBF and flow to the brain were found to rapidly increase during the first year of life (from approx. 25 to 60ml blood/100ml tissue/min), in good agreement with literature from other modalities where available. Mean CBF also showed a significant correlation with arterial oxygen saturation level and heart rate, but no significant correlation was found between CBF and the hematocrit or body temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1072
Number of pages10
JournalNMR in Biomedicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood flow quantification
  • Cerebral perfusion measurements
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neonatal imaging
  • Pediatric neurology and hemodynamics
  • Phase contrast angiography


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