The noninvasive assessment of lung function using imaging is increasingly of interest for the study of lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. Hyperpolarized gas MRI (HP MRI) has demonstrated the ability to detect changes in ventilation, perfusion, and lung microstructure that appear to be associated with both normal lung development and disease progression. The physical characteristics of HP gases and their application to MRI are presented with an emphasis on current applications. Clinical investigations using HP MRI to study asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, pediatric chronic lung disease, and lung transplant are reviewed. Recent advances in polarization, pulse sequence development for imaging with Xe-129, and prototype low magnetic field systems dedicated to lung imaging are highlighted as areas of future development for this rapidly evolving technology.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.