Quantitative cerebral blood flow (CBF) estimation requires deconvolution of the tissue concentration time curves with an arterial input function (AIF). However, image-based determination of AIF in rodent is challenged due to limited spatial resolution. We evaluated the feasibility of quantitative analysis using automated AIF detection and compared the results with commonly applied semi-quantitative analysis. Permanent occlusion of bilateral or unilateral common carotid artery was used to induce cerebral ischemia in rats. The image using dynamic susceptibility contrast method was performed on a 3-T magnetic resonance scanner with a spin-echo echo-planar-image sequence (TR/TE = 700/80 ms, FOV = 41 mm, matrix = 64, 3 slices, SW = 2 mm), starting from 7 s prior to contrast injection (1.2 ml/kg) at four different time points. For quantitative analysis, CBF was calculated by the AIF which was obtained from 10 voxels with greatest contrast enhancement after deconvolution. For semi-quantitative analysis, relative CBF was estimated by the integral divided by the first moment of the relaxivity time curves. We observed if the AIFs obtained in the three different ROIs (whole brain, hemisphere without lesion and hemisphere with lesion) were similar, the CBF ratios (lesion/normal) between quantitative and semi-quantitative analyses might have a similar trend at different operative time points. If the AIFs were different, the CBF ratios might be different. We concluded that using local maximum one can define proper AIF without knowing the anatomical location of arteries in a stroke rat model.
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