Non-invasive imaging methods have become essential tools for understanding the central nervous system (CNS) in health and disease. In particular, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques provide information about the anatomy, microstructure, and function of the brain and spinal cord in vivo non-invasively. However, MRI is limited by its spatial resolution and signal specificity. In order to mitigate these shortcomings, it is crucial to validate MRI with an array of ancillary ex vivo imaging techniques. These techniques include histological methods, such as light and electron microscopy (EM), which can provide specific information on the tissue structure in healthy and diseased brain and spinal cord, at cellular and subcellular level. However, these conventional histological techniques are intrinsically two-dimensional (2D) and, as a result of sectioning, lack volumetric information of the tissue. This limitation can be overcome with genuine three-dimensional (3D) imaging approaches of the tissue. 3D highly resolved information of the CNS achievable by means of other imaging techniques can complement and improve the interpretation of MRI measurements. In this article, we provide an overview of different 3D imaging techniques that can be used to validate MRI. As an example, we introduce an approach of how to combine diffusion MRI and synchrotron X-ray phase contrast tomography (SXRPCT) data. Our approach paves the way for a new multiscale assessment of the CNS allowing to validate and to improve our understanding of in vivo imaging (such as MRI).
- image coregistration
- magnetic resonance image
- multimodal image coregistration
- multiscale imaging
- spinal cord
- X-ray phase contrast microtomography
ASJC Scopus subject areas