Novel MRI Approaches for Assessing Cerebral Hemodynamics in Ischemic Cerebrovascular Disease

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Changes in cerebral hemodynamics underlie a broad spectrum of ischemic cerebrovascular disorders. An ability to accurately and quantitatively measure hemodynamic (cerebral blood flow and cerebral blood volume) and related metabolic (cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen) parameters is important for understanding healthy brain function and comparative dysfunction in ischemia. Although positron emission tomography, single-photon emission tomography, and gadolinium-MRI approaches are common, more recently MRI approaches that do not require exogenous contrast have been introduced with variable sensitivity for hemodynamic parameters. The ability to obtain hemodynamic measurements with these new approaches is particularly appealing in clinical and research scenarios in which follow-up and longitudinal studies are necessary. The purpose of this review is to outline current state-of-the-art MRI methods for measuring cerebral blood flow, cerebral blood volume, and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen and provide practical tips to avoid imaging pitfalls. MRI studies of cerebrovascular disease performed without exogenous contrast are synopsized in the context of clinical relevance and methodological strengths and limitations.

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