Imaging cadavers: Cold FLAIR and noninvasive brain thermometry using CSF diffusion

Paul S. Tofts, Jonathan S. Jackson, Daniel J. Tozer, Mara Cercignani, Geoffrey Keir, David G. MacManus, Gerard R. Ridgway, Basil H. Ridha, Klaus Schmierer, Durre Siddique, John S. Thornton, Stephen J. Wroe, Nick C. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is increasing interest in imaging cadavers for noninvasive autopsies for research purposes. However, the temperature is well below that of in vivo imaging, and a variety of interesting 'cold brain' effects are observed. At lower temperatures conventional FLAIR sequences no longer produce dark cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); T1 is reduced from about 4.0 sec in vivo to 1.7 sec at 1°C. The diffusion coefficient (DC) of CSF is much reduced (from 3.1 10-9 m2s-1 in vivo to 1.1 at 1°C). DC values therefore provide a noninvasive thermometer to measure brain core temperature to within 1.0°C. In three cadavers DC values were 1.1-1.5 10-9 m2s-1, indicating brain core temperatures of 1-10°C, consistent with external thermocouple measurements. An improved inversion time (TI0) can then be found for FLAIR. At 10°C this Cold FLAIR sequence (TI0 = 1.5 sec) gave black CSF. Expressions for CSF DC and T1 as a function of temperature were produced. A measurement of CSF DC could be converted directly to temperature and the required TI0 found. In vitro values of CSF DC were about 1% lower than that of water. Thus, FLAIR imaging can be optimized for cadaveric brains at low and unknown temperatures, thereby improving value for autopsy purposes and facilitating comparisons with in vivo imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-195
Number of pages6
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Diffusion
  • Postmortem tissue
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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