Using flow feature to extract pulsatile blood flow from 4D flow MRI images

Zhiqiang Wang, Ye Zhao, Whitney Yu, Xi Chen, Chen Lin, Stephen F. Kralik, Gary Hutchins

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


4D flow MRI images make it possible to measure pulsatile blood flow inside deforming vessel, which is critical in accurate blood flow visualization, simulation, and evaluation. Such data has great potential to overcome problems in existing work, which usually does not reflect the dynamic nature of elastic vessels and blood flows in cardiac cycles. However, the 4D flow MRI data is often low-resolution and with strong noise. Due to these challenges, few efforts have been successfully conducted to extract dynamic blood flow fields and deforming artery over cardiac cycles, especially for small artery like carotid. In this paper, a robust flow feature, particularly the mean flow intensity is used to segment blood flow regions inside vessels from 4D flow MRI images in whole cardiac cycle. To estimate this flow feature more accurately, adaptive weights are added to the raw velocity vectors based on the noise strength of MRI imaging. Then, based on this feature, target arteries are tracked in at dfierent time steps in a cardiac cycle. This method is applied to the clinical 4D flow MRI data in neck area. Dynamic vessel walls and blood flows are efiectively generated in a cardiac cycle in the relatively small carotid arteries. Good image segmentation results on 2D slices are presented, together with the visualization of 3D arteries and blood flows. Evaluation of the method was performed by clinical doctors and by checking flow volume rates in the vertebral and carotid arteries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMedical Imaging 2017
Subtitle of host publicationImage Processing
ISBN (Electronic)9781510607118
StatePublished - 2017
EventMedical Imaging 2017: Image Processing - Orlando, United States
Duration: Feb 12 2017Feb 14 2017


OtherMedical Imaging 2017: Image Processing
CountryUnited States


  • 4D Flow MRI
  • Flow feature
  • Image Segmentation
  • Mean Flow Intensity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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  • Cite this

    Wang, Z., Zhao, Y., Yu, W., Chen, X., Lin, C., Kralik, S. F., & Hutchins, G. (2017). Using flow feature to extract pulsatile blood flow from 4D flow MRI images. In Medical Imaging 2017: Image Processing (Vol. 10133). [101331O] SPIE.