Dynamic MRI for bowel motility imaging—how fast and how long?

Authors: Catharina S de Jonge, MSc, Ruaridh M Gollifer, MRes, Aart J Nederveen, PhD, David Atkinson, PhD, Stuart A Taylor, MD, PhD, Jaap Stoker, MD, PhD and , Alex Menys, PhD

Dynamic imaging of small intestinal motility is an increasingly common research method to examine bowel physiology in health and disease. However, limited data exist to guide imaging protocols with respect to quantitative analysis. The purpose of this study is to define the required temporal resolution and scan duration in dynamic MRI for small bowel motility assessment.

Six healthy volunteers underwent motility imaging with MR enterography using breath-hold protocol. A coronal two-dimensional balanced fast field echo sequence was used to acquire dynamic data at a high temporal resolution of 10 frames per second (fps). Motility was quantified by generating a registration-derived motility index for local and global regions of bowel. To evaluate temporal resolution and scan duration, the data were undersampled and the scan length was varied to determine the impact on motility index.

The mean motility index stabilizes at a temporal resolution of 1 fps (median absolute percentage change 1.4% for global and 1.9% for local regions of interest). The mean motility index appears to stabilize for scan durations of 15 s or more in breath-hold (median absolute % change 2.8% for global and 1.7% for local regions of interest).

A temporal resolution of at least 1 fps and a scan duration of at least 15 s is necessary in breath-hold scans for consistent motility observations. The majority of small bowel motility studies to date are in line with these requirements.

This study suggests the minimum temporal resolution and scan duration required in breath-hold scans to obtain robust measurements of small bowel motility from MRI.