Quantitative Magnetic Resonance in Diffuse Neurological and Liver Disease

Abstract: Introduction: Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is one of the most important diagnostic tools in modern medicine. Compared to other imaging modalities, it provides superior soft tissue contrast of all parts of the body and it is considered to be safe for patients. Today almost all MR is performed in a nonquantitative manner, only comparing neighboring tissue in the search for pathology. It is possible to quantify MR-signals and relate them to their physical entities, but time consuming and complicated calibration procedures have prevented this being used in a practical manner for clinical routines. The aim of this work is to develop and improve quantification methods in MRspectroscopy (MRS) and MR-imaging (MRI). The techniques are intended to be applied to diffuse diseases, where conventional imaging methods are unable to perform accurate staging or to reveal metabolic changes associated with disease development.Methods: Proton (1H) MRS was used to characterize the white matter in the brain of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Phosphorus (31P) MRS was used to evaluate the energy metabolism in patients with diffuse liver disease. A new quantitative MRI (qMRI) method was invented for accurate, rapid and simultaneous quantification of B1, T1, T2, and proton density. A method for automatic assessment of visceral adipose tissue volume based on an in- and out-ofphase imaging protocol was developed. Finally, a method for quantification of the hepatobiliary uptake of liver specific T1 enhancing contrast agents was demonstrated on healthy subjects.Results: The 1H MRS investigations of white matter in MS-patients revealed a significant correlation between tissue concentrations of Glutamate and Creatine on the one hand and the disease progression rate on the other, as measured using the MSSS. High accuracy, both in vitro and in vivo, of the measured MR-parameters from the qMRI method was observed. 31P MRS showed lower concentrations of phosphodiesters, and a higher metabolic charge in patients with cirrhosis, compared to patients with mild fibrosis and to controls. The adipose tissue quantification method agreed with estimates obtained using manual segmentation, and enabled measurements which were insensitive to partial volume effects. The hepatobiliary uptake of Gd-EOB-DTPA and Gd-BOPTA was significantly correlated in healthy subjects.Conclusion: In this work, new methods for accurate quantification of MR parameters in diffuse diseases in the liver and the brain were demonstrated. Several applications were shown where quantitative MR improves the interpretation of observed signal changes in MRI and MRS in relation to underlying differences in physiology and pathophysiology.