Contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be a highly sensitive monitor of tissue blood perfusion. This technique has been used to assess blood flow through liver, kidney, and certain tumors, but has not been widely applied to the study of skeletal muscle circulation. In our study, we used a novel scanning software to obtain contrast-enhanced T2*-weighted gradient echo MRI images of pedicled quadriceps muscle flaps in rabbits in order to study images of arterial, venous, and arterio-venous occlusion. We administered an intravenous bolus of gadoteridol contrast agent at the initiation of scanning, which produces a decrease in T2*-signal and improves the sensitivity of measuring blood perfusion. Within 30 seconds of MRI scanning, control flaps with intact pedicles exhibited a rapid decrease in T2*-signal intensity, indicating adequate perfusion of blood through muscle tissue; however, occluded pedicled flaps showed no significant change in signal intensity, indicating lack of blood perfusion. Differences in signal intensities as measured by MRI between occluded and control flaps were statistically significant (P < 0.05). Selective vascular occlusion of either artery alone, or both artery and vein were detected within 15 minutes, whereas selective venous occlusion could be detected after 2 hours. We conclude that MRI has the ability to assess skeletal muscle perfusion, and is capable of noninvasively evaluating a cross-section of tissue in both superficial and buried flaps. MRI, therefore, may have the potential for evaluating perfusion in muscle flaps (including buried flaps), and other disorders of muscle circulation such as compartment syndrome.
View details for Web of Science ID A1996XU71700004
View details for PubMedID 9308714