Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Inter-study reproducibility of arterial spin labelling magnetic resonance imaging for measurement of renal perfusion in healthy volunteers at 3 Tesla

Keith A Gillis1, Christie McComb1, John E Foster1, Alison HM Taylor1, Rajan K Patel1, Scott TW Morris2, Alan G Jardine1, Markus P Schneider3, Giles H Roditi4, Christian Delles1 and Patrick B Mark1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, British Heart Foundation Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre, 126 University Place, Glasgow, UK

2 Glasgow Renal and Transplant Unit, Western Infirmary, Dumbarton Road, Glasgow, UK

3 Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany

4 Department of Radiology, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Castle Street, Glasgow, UK

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BMC Nephrology 2014, 15:23  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-15-23

Published: 31 January 2014



Measurement of renal perfusion is a crucial part of measuring kidney function. Arterial spin labelling magnetic resonance imaging (ASL MRI) is a non-invasive method of measuring renal perfusion using magnetised blood as endogenous contrast. We studied the reproducibility of ASL MRI in normal volunteers.


ASL MRI was performed in healthy volunteers on 2 occasions using a 3.0 Tesla MRI scanner with flow-sensitive alternating inversion recovery (FAIR) perfusion preparation with a steady state free precession (True-FISP) pulse sequence. Kidney volume was measured from the scanned images. Routine serum and urine biochemistry were measured prior to MRI scanning.


12 volunteers were recruited yielding 24 kidneys, with a mean participant age of 44.1 ± 14.6 years, blood pressure of 136/82 mmHg and chronic kidney disease epidemiology formula estimated glomerular filtration rate (CKD EPI eGFR) of 98.3 ± 15.1 ml/min/1.73 m2. Mean kidney volumes measured using the ellipsoid formula and voxel count method were 123.5 ± 25.5 cm3, and 156.7 ± 28.9 cm3 respectively. Mean kidney perfusion was 229 ± 41 ml/min/100 g and mean cortical perfusion was 327 ± 63 ml/min/100 g, with no significant differences between ASL MRIs. Mean absolute kidney perfusion calculated from kidney volume measured during the scan was 373 ± 71 ml/min. Bland Altman plots were constructed of the cortical and whole kidney perfusion measurements made at ASL MRIs 1 and 2. These showed good agreement between measurements, with a random distribution of means plotted against differences observed. The intra class correlation for cortical perfusion was 0.85, whilst the within subject coefficient of variance was 9.2%. The intra class correlation for whole kidney perfusion was 0.86, whilst the within subject coefficient of variance was 7.1%.


ASL MRI at 3.0 Tesla provides a repeatable method of measuring renal perfusion in healthy subjects without the need for administration of exogenous compounds. We have established normal values for renal perfusion using ASL MRI in a cohort of healthy volunteers.

Magnetic resonance imaging; Renal blood flow; Renal perfusion; Renal physiology; Arterial spin labelling