1H MR spectroscopy of the brain: absolute quantification of metabolites

Radiology. 2006 Aug;240(2):318-32. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2402050314.


Hydrogen 1 (1H) magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy enables noninvasive in vivo quantification of metabolite concentrations in the brain. Currently, metabolite concentrations are most often presented as ratios (eg, relative to creatine) rather than as absolute concentrations. Despite the success of this approach, it has recently been suggested that relative quantification may introduce substantial errors and can lead to misinterpretation of spectral data and to erroneous metabolite values. The present review discusses relevant methods to obtain absolute metabolite concentrations with a clinical MR system by using single-voxel spectroscopy or chemical shift imaging. Important methodological aspects in an absolute quantification strategy are addressed, including radiofrequency coil properties, calibration procedures, spectral fitting methods, cerebrospinal fluid content correction, macromolecule suppression, and spectral editing. Techniques to obtain absolute concentrations are now available and can be successfully applied in clinical practice. Although the present review is focused on 1H MR spectroscopy of the brain, a large part of the methodology described can be applied to other tissues as well.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Calibration
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Statistics as Topic