Whole body MRI: improved lesion detection and characterization with diffusion weighted techniques

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2013 Aug;38(2):253-68. doi: 10.1002/jmri.24285.


Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) is an established functional imaging technique that interrogates the delicate balance of water movement at the cellular level. Technological advances enable this technique to be applied to whole-body MRI. Theory, b-value selection, common artifacts and target to background for optimized viewing will be reviewed for applications in the neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis. Whole-body imaging with DWI allows novel applications of MRI to aid in evaluation of conditions such as multiple myeloma, lymphoma, and skeletal metastases, while the quantitative nature of this technique permits evaluation of response to therapy. Persisting signal at high b-values from restricted hypercellular tissue and viscous fluid also permits applications of DWI beyond oncologic imaging. DWI, when used in conjunction with routine imaging, can assist in detecting hemorrhagic degradation products, infection/abscess, and inflammation in colitis, while aiding with discrimination of free fluid and empyema, while limiting the need for intravenous contrast. DWI in conjunction with routine anatomic images provides a platform to improve lesion detection and characterization with findings rivaling other combined anatomic and functional imaging techniques, with the added benefit of no ionizing radiation.

Keywords: MRI; whole body MRI; apparent diffusion coefficient ADC; b-value; diffusion-weighted imaging DWI; oncology imaging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Whole Body Imaging / methods*