Basic principles of diffusion-weighted imaging

Eur J Radiol. 2003 Mar;45(3):169-84. doi: 10.1016/s0720-048x(02)00303-0.


In diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI), image contrast is determined by the random microscopic motion of water protons. During the last years, DWI has become an important modality in the diagnostic work-up of acute ischemia in the CNS. There are also a few promising reports about the application of DWI to other regions in the human body, such as the vertebral column or the abdomen. This manuscript provides an introduction into the basics of DWI and Diffusion Tensor imaging. The potential of various MR sequences in concert with diffusion preparation are discussed with respect to acquisition speed, spatial resolution, and sensitivity to bulk physiologic motion. More advanced diffusion measurement techniques, such as high angular resolution diffusion imaging, are also addressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Echo-Planar Imaging / methods
  • Humans