MRI quantification of non-Gaussian water diffusion by kurtosis analysis

NMR Biomed. 2010 Aug;23(7):698-710. doi: 10.1002/nbm.1518.


Quantification of non-Gaussianity for water diffusion in brain by means of diffusional kurtosis imaging (DKI) is reviewed. Diffusional non-Gaussianity is a consequence of tissue structure that creates diffusion barriers and compartments. The degree of non-Gaussianity is conveniently quantified by the diffusional kurtosis and derivative metrics, such as the mean, axial, and radial kurtoses. DKI is a diffusion-weighted MRI technique that allows the diffusional kurtosis to be estimated with clinical scanners using standard diffusion-weighted pulse sequences and relatively modest acquisition times. DKI is an extension of the widely used diffusion tensor imaging method, but requires the use of at least 3 b-values and 15 diffusion directions. This review discusses the underlying theory of DKI as well as practical considerations related to data acquisition and post-processing. It is argued that the diffusional kurtosis is sensitive to diffusional heterogeneity and suggested that DKI may be useful for investigating ischemic stroke and neuropathologies, such as Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diffusion
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Water / metabolism*


  • Water