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Assessment of brainstem function and haemodynamics by MRI: challenges and clinical prospects

Woodward, Owen Bleddyn, Driver, Ian ORCID:, Schwarz, Stefan Theodor, Hart, Emma and Wise, Richard ORCID: 2023. Assessment of brainstem function and haemodynamics by MRI: challenges and clinical prospects. British Journal of Radiology 96 (1151) , 20220940. 10.1259/bjr.20220940

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MRI offers techniques for non-invasively measuring a range of aspects of brain tissue function. Blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is widely used to assess neural activity, based on the brain’s haemodynamic response, while arterial spin labelling (ASL) MRI is a non-invasive method of quantitatively mapping cerebral perfusion. Both techniques can be applied to measure cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR), an important marker of the health of the cerebrovascular system. BOLD, ASL and CVR have been applied to study a variety of disease processes and are already used in certain clinical circumstances. The brainstem is a critical component of the central nervous system and is implicated in a variety of disease processes. However, its function is difficult to study using MRI because of its small size and susceptibility to physiological noise. In this article, we review the physical and biological underpinnings of BOLD and ASL and their application to measure CVR, discuss the challenges associated with applying them to the brainstem and the opportunities for brainstem MRI in the research and clinical settings. With further optimisation, functional MRI techniques could feasibly be used to assess brainstem haemodynamics and neural activity in the clinical setting.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Publisher: British Institute of Radiology
ISSN: 0007-1285
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 July 2023
Date of Acceptance: 6 July 2023
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2023 15:24

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