MR imaging of intravoxel incoherent motions: application to diffusion and perfusion in neurologic disorders.
Molecular diffusion and microcirculation in the capillary network result in a distribution of phases in a single voxel in the presence of magnetic field gradients. This distribution produces a spin-echo attenuation. The authors have developed a magnetic resonance (MR) method to image such intravoxel incoherent motions (IVIMs) by using appropriate gradient pulses. Images were generated at 0.5 T in a high-resolution, multisection mode. Diffusion coefficients measured on images of water and acetone phantoms were consistent with published values. Images obtained in the neurologic area from healthy subjects and patients were analyzed in terms of an apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) incorporating the effect of all IVIMs. Differences were found between various normal and pathologic tissues. The ADC of in vivo water differed from the diffusion coefficient of pure water. Results were assessed in relation to water compartmentation in biologic tissues (restricted diffusion) and tissue perfusion. Nonuniform slow flow of cerebrospinal fluid appeared as a useful feature on IVIM images. Observation of these motions may significantly extend the diagnostic capabilities of MR imaging.