Send to

Choose Destination
Phys Med Biol. 2000 Aug;45(8):R97-138.

The measurement of diffusion and perfusion in biological systems using magnetic resonance imaging.

Author information

Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering, University College London, UK.


The aim of this review is to describe two recent developments in the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the study of biological systems: diffusion and perfusion MRI. Diffusion MRI measures the molecular mobility of water in tissue, while perfusion MRI measures the rate at which blood is delivered to tissue. Therefore, both these techniques measure quantities which have direct physiological relevance. It is shown that diffusion in biological systems is a complex phenomenon, influenced directly by tissue microstructure, and that its measurement can provide a large amount of information about the organization of this structure in normal and diseased tissue. Perfusion reflects the delivery of essential nutrients to tissue, and so is directly related to its status. The concepts behind the techniques are explained, and the theoretical models that are used to convert MRI data to quantitative physical parameters are outlined. Examples of current applications of diffusion and perfusion MRI are given. In particular, the use of the techniques to study the pathophysiology of cerebral ischaemia/stroke is described. It is hoped that the biophysical insights provided by this approach will help to define the mechanisms of cell damage and allow evaluation of therapies aimed at reducing this damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center