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NMR Biomed. 2002 Nov-Dec;15(7-8):516-42.

High b-value q-space analyzed diffusion-weighted MRS and MRI in neuronal tissues - a technical review.

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School of Chemistry, The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel.


This review deals with high b-value q-space diffusion-weighted MRI (DW-MRI) of neuronal tissues. It is well documented that at sufficiently high b-values (and high q-values) neuronal water signal decay in diffusion experiments is not mono-exponential. This implies the existence of more than one apparent diffusing component or evidence for restriction. The assignment of the different apparent diffusing components to real physical entities is not straightforward. However, the apparent slow diffusing component that was found to be restricted to a compartment of a few microns, if originating mainly from a specific pool and if assigned correctly, may potentially be used to obtain more specific MR images with regard to specific pathologies of the CNS. This review examines the utility of analyzing high b-value diffusion MRS and MRI data using the q-space approach introduced by Callaghan and by Cory and Garroway. This approach provides displacement probability maps that emphasize, at long diffusion times, the characteristics of the apparent slow diffusing component. Examples from excised spinal cord, where the experimental conditions for which the q-space analysis of MR diffusion data was developed can be met or approached will be presented. Then examples from human MS patients, where q-space requirement for the short gradient pulse is clearly violated, are presented. In the excised spinal cord studies, this approach was used to study spinal cord maturation and trauma, and was found to be more sensitive than other conventional methods in following spinal cord degeneration in an experimental model of vascular dementia (VaD). High b-value q-space DWI was also recently used to study healthy and MS diseased human brains. This approach was found to be very sensitive to the disease load in MS, compared with other conventional MRI methods, especially in the normal appearing white matter (NAWM) of MS brains. Finally, the potential diagnostic capacity embedded in high b-value q-space analyzed diffusion MR images is discussed. The potentials and caveats of this approach are outlined and experimental data are presented that show the effect of violating the short gradient pulse (SGP) approximation on the extracted parameters from the q-space analysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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