Physics, Techniques and Review of Neuroradiological Applications of Diffusion Kurtosis Imaging (DKI)

Clin Neuroradiol. 2016 Dec;26(4):391-403. doi: 10.1007/s00062-015-0469-9. Epub 2015 Nov 20.


In recent years many papers about diagnostic applications of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) have been published. This is because DTI allows to evaluate in vivo and in a non-invasive way the process of diffusion of water molecules in biological tissues. However, the simplified description of the diffusion process assumed in DTI does not permit to completely map the complex underlying cellular components and structures, which hinder and restrict the diffusion of water molecules. These limitations can be partially overcome by means of diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI). The aim of this paper is the description of the theory of DKI, a new topic of growing interest in radiology. DKI is a higher order diffusion model that is a straightforward extension of the DTI model. Here, we analyze the physics underlying this method, we report our MRI acquisition protocol with the preprocessing pipeline used and the DKI parametric maps obtained on a 1.5 T scanner, and we review the most relevant clinical applications of this technique in various neurological diseases.

Keywords: Brain; Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI); Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI); Diffusional kurtosis imaging (DKI); Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); Neuroradiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Diseases / pathology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • White Matter / pathology*