Biomedical imaging with hyperpolarized noble gases

Rep Prog Phys. 2014 Nov;77(11):116701. doi: 10.1088/0034-4885/77/11/116701. Epub 2014 Oct 31.


Hyperpolarized noble gases (HNGs), polarized to approximately 50% or higher, have led to major advances in magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of porous structures and air-filled cavities in human subjects, particularly the lung. By boosting the available signal to a level about 100 000 times higher than that at thermal equilibrium, air spaces that would otherwise appear as signal voids in an MR image can be revealed for structural and functional assessments. This review discusses how HNG MR imaging differs from conventional proton MR imaging, how MR pulse sequence design is affected and how the properties of gas imaging can be exploited to obtain hitherto inaccessible information in humans and animals. Current and possible future imaging techniques, and their application in the assessment of normal lung function as well as certain lung diseases, are described.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Noble Gases*
  • Spectrum Analysis / methods


  • Noble Gases