Conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows for a detailed noninvasive visualization/examination of posterior fossa structures and represents a fundamental step in the diagnostic workup of many cerebellar disorders. In the first part of this chapter methodologic issues, like the correct choice of hardware (magnets, coils), pro and cons of the different MRI sequences, and patient management during the examination are discussed. In the second part, the MRI anatomy of the cerebellum, as noted on the various conventional MRI sequences, as well as a detailed description of cerebellar maturational processes from birth to childhood and into adulthood, are reported. Volumetric studies on the cerebellar growth based on three-dimensional MRI sequences are also presented. Moreover, we briefly discuss two main topics regarding conventional MRI of the cerebellum that have generated some debate in recent years: the differentiation between cerebellar atrophy, hypoplasia, and pontocerebellar hypoplasia, and signal changes of dentate nuclei after repetitive gadolinium-based contrast injections. The advantages and benefits of advanced neuroimaging techniques, including 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy, diffusion-weighted imaging, diffusion tensor imaging, and perfusion-weighted imaging are discussed in the last section of the chapter.
Keywords: (1)H MRS; DWI/DTI; MRI; PWI; anatomic variants; cerebellar atrophy; cerebellar growth; cerebellar hypoplasia; cerebellar morphology; gadolinium deposition.
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