Advanced MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging has come a long way from the familiar black-and-white images. Today’s advanced neurovascular imaging techniques track the flow of liquid in the brain, identifying gaps and areas of trauma. Two such techniques—Susceptibility-Weighted Imaging (SWI) and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)—are used with patients of the Center for Integrated Neurology. 

flair-swi-dti

In a DTI image, regions highlighted in blue indicate nerve (axonal) injury.

Susceptibility-Weighted Imaging (SWI)

brain-scanThe image at right shows a comparison of a traditional MRI technique, FLAIR (a), to an SWI image (b). Both images were taken of the same patient. Note the visible ‘gaps’ in (b) that would have gone undiagnosed were a clinician to use only (a). The SWI image is possible through the use of algorithms that differentiate the densities of adjacent tissues. While signal density forms the basis of all MR scans, including (a), the SWI scan (b) is 3-to-6 times more sensitive as it accounts for the susceptibility of all brain elements, including hemorrhages – hence the name susceptibility-weighted image. SWI is clinically appropriate in the diagnosis of: TBI, Tumors, Stroke and Hemorrhage, Multiple Sclerosis, Vascular Dementia, Sturge-Weber disease and other brain disorders.

Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)

side-view-brain-scanDTI is appropriate for imaging the brain’s neural tracts for signs of injury or disorder. DTI works by measuring the diffusion of water through tissue. Measurements are isolated to identify the preferred direction of flow, which allows for the isolation of neural tracts from the brain’s white matter. DTI is the most sensitive MR approach currently available and can be used to identify tract-specific lesions caused by TBI. In one study, DTI scans found tumors, hemorrhages and obstructions in 63 of 179 patients that were undiscovered using traditional MRI scans (sciencedaily.com, 4/23/2009).

Both SWI and DTI MR applications are available to our patients.

For more information or to make a referral to the Center for Integrated Neurology, call (248) 277-3334.