An international multicenter comparison of time-SLIP unenhanced MR angiography and contrast-enhanced CT angiography for assessing renal artery stenosis: The renal artery contrast-free trial

Timothys E. Albert, Masaaki Akahane, Isabelle Parienty, Nancy Yellin, Violeta Catalá, Xavier Alomar, Antoine Prot, Nobuo Tomizawa, Huadan Xue, Venkata S. Katabathina, Jorge E. Lopera, Zhengyu Jin

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OBJECTIVE. The unenhanced MR angiography (MRA) technique time-spatial labeling inversion pulse (time-SLIP) may provide a safe alternative for evaluating the renal arteries for stenosis. This international multicenter trial tested the hypothesis that time-SLIP unenhanced MRA is accurate and robust for assessing the renal arteries for stenosis in comparison with contrast-enhanced CT angiography (CTA). SUBJECTS AND METHODS. Four centers (United States, Europe, Asia) enrolled 75 patients (average age ± SD, 58 ± 13 years; 41 [55%] men and 34 [45%] women). Each patient underwent abdominal contrast-enhanced CTA and abdominal unenhanced MRA using time-SLIP with balanced steady-state free precession. All images were visually assessed for quality (arterial signal intensity) and for the absence or presence of renal artery stenosis (< 50% or > 50% stenosis, respectively). In addition, for arteries with any visible disease, the severity of the stenosis was quantified. Two blinded readers evaluated each study. No arteries were excluded from analysis. RESULTS. Unenhanced MRA image quality was excellent for 56 of 75 patients (75%) and good for 16 of 75 patients (21%). CTA was used as the reference standard and showed that 23 of 161 renal arteries (14.3%) had stenosis > 50%. Unenhanced MRA correctly classified 17 of the 23 renal arteries with > 50% stenosis and correctly classified 128 of the 138 renal arteries as not having disease (≤ 50% stenosis) to yield a sensitivity of 74%, specificity of 93%, and accuracy of 90% (X2 = 0.56; p = 0.45, no statistically significant difference). Of the 16 misclas-sified arteries, only three had a clinically relevant misclassification (CTA ≥ 70% stenosis and unenhanced MRA ≤ 50% stenosis or unenhanced MRA ≥ 70% stenosis and CTA ≤ 50% stenosis). On average, measured stenotic severity (n = 28 arteries) was similar for unenhanced MRA (64% ± 17%) and CTA (62% ± 16%) (p = 0.51 ). CONCLUSION. Compared with contrast-enhanced CTA, the unenhanced MRA technique time-SLIP shows promise for assessing the renal arteries for stenosis. The unenhanced MRA technique time-SLIP may provide a safe alternative for evaluating the renal arteries for stenosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-188
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015



  • CT angiography
  • Multicenter clinical trial
  • Renal artery stenosis
  • Unenhanced MR angiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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