The aim of this paper is to illustrate the technical, methodological and diagnostic features of functional imaging (comprising spectroscopy, diffusion, perfusion and cortical activation techniques) and its principal neuroradiological applications on the basis of the experience gained by the authors in the 5 years since the installation of a high-field magnetic resonance (MR) magnet. These MR techniques are particularly effective at 3.0 Tesla (T) owing to their high signal, resolution and sensitivity, reduced scanning times and overall improved diagnostic ability. In particular, the high-field strength enhances spectroscopic analysis due to a greater signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and improved spectral, space and time resolution, resulting in the ability to obtain highresolution spectroscopic studies not only of the more common metabolites, but also - and especially - of those which, due to their smaller concentrations, are difficult to detect using 1.5-T systems. All of these advantages can be obtained with reduced acquisition times. In diffusion studies, the high-field strength results in greater SNR, because 3.0-T magnets enable increased spatial resolution, which enhances accuracy. They also allow exploration in greater detail of more complex phenomena (such as diffusion tensor and tractography), which are not clearly depicted on 1.5-T systems. The most common perfusion study (with intravenous injection of a contrast agent) benefits from the greater SNR and higher magnetic susceptibility by achieving dramatically improved signal changes, and thus greater reliability, using smaller doses of contrast agent. Functional MR imaging (fMRI) is without doubt the modality in which high-field strength has had the greatest impact. Images acquired with the blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) technique benefit from the greater SNR afforded by 3.0-T magnets and from their stronger magnetic susceptibility effects, providing higher signal and spatial resolution. This enhances reliability of the localisation of brain functions, making it possible to map additional areas, even in the millimetre and submillimetre scale. The data presented and results obtained to date show that 3.0-T morphofunctional imaging can become the standard for highresolution investigation of brain disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging