A computer-aided method for finding an optimal imaging plane for simultaneous measurement of the arterial blood
inflow through the 4 vessels leading blood to the brain by phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging is presented. The
method performance is compared with manual selection by two observers. The skeletons of the 4 vessels for which
centerlines are generated are first extracted. Then, a global direction of the relatively less curved internal carotid arteries
is calculated to determine the main flow direction. This is then used as a reference direction to identify segments of the
vertebral arteries that strongly deviates from the main flow direction. These segments are then used to identify
anatomical landmarks for improved consistency of the imaging plane selection. An optimal imaging plane is then
identified by finding a plane with the smallest error value, which is defined as the sum of the angles between the plane's
normal and the vessel centerline's direction at the location of the intersections. Error values obtained using the
automated and the manual methods were then compared using 9 magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) data sets. The
automated method considerably outperformed the manual selection. The mean error value with the automated method
was significantly lower than the manual method, 0.09±0.07 vs. 0.53±0.45, respectively (p<.0001, Student's t-test).
Reproducibility of repeated measurements was analyzed using Bland and Altman's test, the mean 95% limits of
agreements for the automated and manual method were 0.01~0.02 and 0.43~0.55 respectively.