fMRI Analytical Imaging Technology Identifies Cerebral Vascular Disorders Without Contrast Agents

fMRI Analytical Imaging Technology Identifies Cerebral Vascular Disorders Without Contrast Agents

A new fMRI-based analytical imaging technique has been developed by researchers at Purdue University that allows vascular disorders and brain injuries to be identified without the use of invasive contrasting agents. The technique tracks an intrinsic blood-related MRI signal which is used as a natural biomarker that is known to travel with the blood.

This new technique allows researchers to monitor the balance of blood flow in both hemispheres of the brain or neck and assess cerebrovascular integrity. In healthy patients, blood flow should be symmetrical in both hemispheres of the brain. Patients with cerebral vascular disorders or brain injuries will have asymmetric blood flow.

The technique measures cerebral circulation time – the time delay between intrinsic signals from the internal carotid artery to the jugular vein. When there is a prolonged delay time it is indicative of a problem – a traumatic brain injury, cerebral vascular disorder, tumor, or other brain problem or disease.

It is possible to assess brain injuries and cerebral vascular disorders using standard MRI scans; however, they require the injection of a contrast agent and measurements can only be taken for a few seconds. Since the new technique is non-invasive it is much safer. Contrasting agents can stick to blood vessels in the brain and can cause patients health problems. An additional advantage of the new technique is measurements can be taken continuously.

“The new method can even be applied on some existing MRI data to calculate the cerebral circulation time,” said Yunjie Tong, assistant professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, who helped develop the technology.

The new technique is compatible with current MRI scanners and near infrared spectroscopy. While the new imaging method has been shown to be effective at identifying brain problems, further testing of the technique is required. The researchers hope to partner with various organizations to conduct further assessments of the new technique.

The researchers’ new imaging technique is detailed in the paper – The resting-state fMRI arterial signal predicts differential blood transit time through the brain – published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism.

Leave a Reply